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Neurobiol Aging. 2007 May;28(5):742-7. Epub 2006 May 6.

CSF neurofilament light chain and tau differentiate multiple system atrophy from Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Radboud University, Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.



In early disease stages it can be clinically difficult to differentiate idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD) from patients with multiple system atrophy predominated by parkinsonism (MSA-P).


In CSF of 31 patients with IPD, 19 patients with MSA-P, we analyzed tau, neurofilament light chain (NFL) and heavy chain (NFHp35) and the noradrenergic metabolite 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethyleneglycol (MHPG).


CSF levels of NFL, NFHp35, and tau were significantly increased in MSA-P (all p<0.0001), whereas, MHPG levels were significantly decreased in MSA-P (p<0.0001). Optimal discriminative cut-off values for the differentiation between MSA-P and IPD were calculated resulting in high sensitivity (76-94%) and specificity (83-97%) levels. Multivariate logistic regression resulted in the combination of NFL and tau as independent contributors in differentiating between MSA-P and IPD.


Higher CSF levels of axonal biomarkers could reflect advanced axonal degeneration in MSA-P. Differentiating MSA-P from IPD could be accurately possible with CSF analysis of a combination of axonal and neurotransmitter biomarkers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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