Background: Approximately 30% of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt systems for hydrocephalus fail within the first year and 98% of all patients will have shunt failure in their lifetime. Obstruction remains the most common reason for shunt failure. Previous evidence suggests elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines in CSF are associated with worsening clinical outcomes in neuroinflammatory diseases. The aim of this study was to determine whether cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) contribute towards shunt failure in hydrocephalus. Methods: Using multiplex ELISA, this study examined shunt failure through the CSF protein concentration profiles of select pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, as well as select MMPs. Interdependencies such as the past number of previous revisions, length of time implanted, patient age, and obstruction or non-obstruction revision were examined. The pro-inflammatory cytokines were IL-1β, IL-2, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, IL-17, TNF-α, GM-CSF, IFN-γ. The anti-inflammatory cytokines were IL-4 and IL-10, and the MMPs were MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-7, MMP-9. Protein concentration is reported as pg/mL for each analyte. Results: Patient CSF was obtained at the time of shunt revision operation; all pediatric (< 18), totaling n = 38. IL-10, IL-6, IL-8 and MMP-7 demonstrated significantly increased concentrations in patient CSF for the non-obstructed subgroup. Etiological examination revealed IL-6 was increased in both obstructed and non-obstructed cases for PHH and congenital hydrocephalic patients, while IL-8 was higher only in PHH patients. In terms of number of past revisions, IL-10, IL-6, IL-8, MMP-7 and MMP-9 progressively increased from zero to two past revisions and then remained low for subsequent revisions. This presentation was notably absent in the obstruction subgroup. Shunts implanted for three months or less showed significantly increased concentrations of IL-6, IL-8, and MMP-7 in the obstruction subgroup. Lastly, only patients aged six months or less presented with significantly increased concentration of IL-8 and MMP-7. Conclusion: Non-obstructive cases are reported here to accompany significantly higher CSF cytokine and MMP protein levels compared to obstructive cases for IL-10, IL-6, IL-8, MMP-7 and MMP-9. A closer examination of the definition of obstruction and the role neuroinflammation plays in creating shunt obstruction in hydrocephalic patients is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalFluids and barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Cytokines
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Mmps
  • Multiplex ELISA
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Revisions


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