ObjectiveMS is a demyelinating CNS disorder with a spectrum of clinical patterns regarding course and prognosis. Although several prognostic factors are considered in the initial evaluation of patients, biological markers defining the disease course and guiding treatments are currently lacking. It is unknown whether patients with CSF pleocytosis differ in regard to symptoms, disease course, and prognosis from those without. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether CSF pleocytosis during the initial presentation has an impact on the clinical course and progression of MS.MethodsWe retrospectively evaluated patients attending the MS Clinic at Rabin Medical Center between January 1999 and January 2016 who underwent lumbar puncture (LP) at disease presentation, considering CSF cell count, clinical diagnosis (clinically isolated syndrome [CIS] and relapsing-remitting MS [RRMS]), annualized relapse rate (ARR), paraclinical findings (imaging, CSF oligoclonal bands, and evoked potentials), and disease progression, expressed by the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS).ResultsOne hundred fourteen patients (72 females) underwent LP at disease presentation (RRMS: n = 100, CIS: n = 14). Age at diagnosis was 32.4 ± 12.2 years, and the follow-up time was 9.4 ± 3.8 years. Forty-six patients showed a pleocytic CSF (≥5 cells per L). Compared with patients with <4 cells per L, patients with pleocytosis had a higher ARR (0.60 ± 0.09 vs 0.48 ± 0.04; p = 0.0267) and a steeper increase (slope) in the EDSS score throughout the follow-up period (correlation coefficient: r2 = 0.04; p = 0.0251).ConclusionsCSF pleocytosis may be considered a biological unfavorable predictive factor regarding disease course and progression in MS.