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J Neurosci Res. 2001 Nov 1;66(3):510-6.

Neurofilament protein in cerebrospinal fluid: a marker of white matter changes.

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Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.


The objective of this study was to compare cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of the light subtype of the neurofilament proteins (NFL), tau, and beta-amyloid42 (Abeta42) in individuals with moderate or severe white matter changes (WMC) and in those with mild or no WMC. Twenty-two patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), nine patients with subcortical vascular dementia (SVD), and 20 normal controls were included in the study. The occurrence of WMC was evaluated by a neuroradiologist using the Blennow-Wallin scale. Thirty-seven subjects had no or only punctate WMC; 14 had moderate to severe WMC. Both diagnostic group and WMC, but not gender or apolipoproteinE E4 inheritance, contributed to the variance in the CSF levels of tau, NFL, and Abeta42. In patients with moderate to severe WMC, CSF NFL (P < 0.01), but not CSF tau or CSF Abeta42, was increased also after correction for age, gender, and degree of cognitive impairment. A comparison between patients and controls with any signs of WMC and those without such signs yielded a similar result: CSF NFL (P < 0.001) was increased in the group with signs of WMC. As in numerous previous studies, we found that CSF tau was increased in AD (P < 0.001) compared with controls. Furthermore, CSF NFL was increased in both AD and SVD compared with controls (P < 0.001 for both). Although diagnostic group seems to be a stronger predictor of the variance found in CSF NFL, a clear association between the presence of WMC and increased CSF NFL was found. Because NFL is located mainly in large myelinated axons, increased CSF NFL in individuals with WMC probably reflects axonal degeneration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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