Increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) IL-6 has been reported in patients with Behcet's disease (BD) and neurological involvement. To elucidate the value of IL-6 as a marker of disease activity, serum and CSF IL-6 levels of 68 BD patients with acute (26) or chronic progressive (14) parenchymal involvement (pNB), dural sinus thrombosis (10), ischemic stroke (5) or headache (13) were measured by ELISA. Samples from multiple sclerosis, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, and noninflammatory neurological disorders were used as controls. CSF but not serum samples of neuro-BD patients with acute pNB displayed significantly increased IL-6 levels as compared to other groups. Chronic progressive pNB patients also showed increased CSF IL-6 levels, albeit less prominent. Patients with increased CSF IL-6 levels were more likely to have increased CSF cell counts and total protein levels and these three parameters were correlated with long-term (>= 3 years) disease outcome. In four chronic progressive patients. IL-6 was elevated despite otherwise normal CSF. CSF IL-6 seems to be a marker of disease activity and long-term outcome for pNB along with CSF cell count and protein levels. CSF IL-6 could be used in chronic progressive patients who have normal CSF cell, or protein levels to detect disease activity. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.