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Clin Chem. 2017 Dec;63(12):1856-1865. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2017.278267. Epub 2017 Oct 11.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Total Protein Reference Intervals Derived from 20 Years of Patient Data.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Division of Biochemistry, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada;
Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada.



Reference intervals are vital for interpretation of laboratory results. Many existing reference intervals for cerebrospinal fluid total protein (CSF-TP) are derived from old literature because of the invasive nature of sampling. The objective of this study was to determine reference intervals for CSF-TP using available patient data.


Twenty years of hospital database information was mined for previously reported CSF-TP results. Associated demographic, laboratory, and clinical diagnosis (International Classification of Diseases 9/10 codes) details were extracted. CSF-TP results included 3 different analytical platforms: the Siemens Vista 1500, Beckman Lx20, and Roche Hitachi 917. From an initial data set of 19591 samples, the following exclusion criteria were applied: incomplete data, white blood cells (WBCs) >5 × 106/L, red blood cells (RBCs) >50 × 106/L, and glucose <2.5 mmol/L. Patient charts were reviewed in detail to exclude 60 different conditions for which increases in CSF-TP would be expected. A total of 6068 samples were included; 63% of the samples were from females. Continuous reference intervals were determined using quantile regression. Age- and sex-partitioned intervals were established using the quantile regression equation and splitting age-groups into 5-year bins.


CSF-TP showed a marked age dependence, and males had significantly higher CSF-TP than females across all ages. CSF-TP results from the 3 different instruments and manufacturers showed small (approximately 0.04 g/L), but statistically significant, differences. CSF-TP showed weak, but again statistically significant, correlation with WBC and RBC but was independent of serum total protein and creatinine.


The age dependence of CSF-TP supports that age-partitioned reference intervals will be more accurate than a single cutoff, particularly in patients with advancing age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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