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Neurology. 2010 Dec 7;75(23):2079-86. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318200d78d. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Novel CSF biomarkers for frontotemporal lobar degenerations.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-4283, USA.



To identify antemortem CSF diagnostic biomarkers that can potentially distinguish between the 2 main causes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), i.e., FTLD with TDP-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP) and FTLD with tau pathology (FTLD-tau).


CSF samples were collected antemortem from 23 patients with FTLD with known pathology to form a autopsy cohort as part of a comparative biomarker study that additionally included 33 living cognitively normal subjects and 66 patients with autopsy-confirmed Alzheimer disease (AD). CSF samples were also collected from 80 living patients clinically diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Levels of 151 novel analytes were measured via a targeted multiplex panel enriched in neuropeptides, cytokines, and growth factors, along with levels of CSF biomarkers for AD.


CSF levels of multiple analytes differed between FTLD-TDP and FTLD-tau, including Fas, neuropeptides (agouti-related peptide and adrenocorticotropic hormone), and chemokines (IL-23, IL-17). Classification by random forest analysis achieved high sensitivity for FTLD-TDP (86%) with modest specificity (78%) in the autopsy cohort. When the classification algorithm was applied to a living FTD cohort, semantic dementia was the phenotype with the highest predicted proportion of FTLD-TDP. When living patients with behavioral variant FTD were examined in detail, those predicted to have FTLD-TDP demonstrated neuropsychological differences vs those predicted to have FTLD-tau in a pattern consistent with previously reported trends in autopsy-confirmed cases.


Clinical cases with FTLD-TDP and FTLD-tau pathology can be potentially identified antemortem by assaying levels of specific analytes that are well-known and readily measurable in CSF.

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