A role of B cells in multiple sclerosis (MS) is well established, but there is limited understanding of their involvement during active disease. Here, we examined cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and peripheral blood (PB) B cells in treatment-naive patients with MS or high-risk clinically isolated syndrome. Using flow cytometry, we found increased CSF lymphocytes with a disproportionate increase of B cells compared with T cells in patients with gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) lesions on brain MRI. Ig gene heavy chain variable region (Ig-VH) repertoire sequencing of CSF and PB B cells revealed clonal relationships between intrathecal and peripheral B cell populations, which could be consistent with migration of B cells to and activation in the CNS in active MS. In addition, we found evidence for bystander immigration of B cells from the periphery, which could be supported by a CXCL13 gradient between CSF and blood. Understanding what triggers B cells to migrate and home to the CNS may ultimately aid in the rational selection of therapeutic strategies to limit progression in MS.
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