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Neurosci Lett. 1999 Dec 17;277(1):21-4.

Cerebrospinal fluid tau protein shows a better discrimination in young old (<70 years) than in old old patients with Alzheimer's disease compared with controls.

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Department of Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry Branch, Dementia Research Section and Memory Clinic, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Germany.


Tau protein is consistently reported to be elevated in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). CSF tau alone, however, is not a clinically useful diagnostic marker due to its relatively low diagnostic specificity. Therefore, efforts are under way to combine tau measurements with other criteria in order to improve diagnostic applicability. We investigated whether age could serve as an useful criterion to increase diagnostic accuracy. CSF levels of tau were measured in young old (<70 years) and old old (> or =70 years) patients with probable AD, elderly patients with major depression (MD), and age-matched healthy controls (HC). In AD patients, CSF tau levels were significantly elevated compared with MD patients and HC (P < 0.001). Based on a previously established cut-off of 260 pg/ml, the discriminative power was higher in the young old than in the old old subjects. Similarly, receiver operating characteristics analysis revealed a statistically significant higher correct classification rate in the young old. Our findings indicate that the discriminative power of CSF tau is higher in the young than in the old old. We suggest that the effect of age should be considered in studies investigating CSF tau as a diagnostic marker for neurodegenerative disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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