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Neurology. 1997 Mar;48(3):632-5.

Assessment of CSF levels of tau protein in mildly demented patients with Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, USA.


CSF levels of tau protein are increased in many patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Studies disagree on whether the increase is found in moderate or severe AD to a greater extent than in mild AD, and in two reports there was an inverse correlation between tau levels and cognitive scores. To readdress this question, we measured CSF tau in a group of mildly impaired patients with AD (Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE] scores > or =20/30) and compared their tau levels with those in age-comparable normal and neurologic controls. We found that the mean level of CSF tau was significantly increased in the AD group compared with the controls, and 29 of 36 patients with AD had levels that exceeded a cutoff determined in a previous study. CSF tau levels did not correlate with MMSE scores. These findings and those of previous studies show that elevated CSF tau levels are found in most patients with AD, occur early in the course of dementia, and may be useful in supporting the diagnosis of AD.

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