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Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in patients with neurological symptoms but without neurological diseases

Journal article
Authors Radu Constantinescu
Ubah Mahamud
Clara Constantinescu
Barbro Eriksson
Lenka Novakova
Bob Olsson
Lars Rosengren
Kaj Blennow
Markus Axelsson
Published in Acta Neurologica Scandinavica
ISSN 0001-6314
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Language en
Keywords cerebrospinal fluid, GFAP, NF-L, protein markers, tau protein
Subject categories Neurosciences


Background: Elevated levels of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) neuronal injury markers (neurofilament light chain [NF-L] and total tau protein [t-tau]) and of the astroglial marker glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) are found in etiologically different neurological disorders affecting the peripheral and the central nervous system. Aims: To explore the role of CSF biomarkers in the clinical management of patients admitted for alarming neurological symptoms, but in whom neurological disorders could be excluded. Methods: Study participants were patients seeking medical attention for neurological symptoms primarily considered to be caused by a neurological diagnosis and investigated according to clinical routine. Demographic, clinical, and CSF data were extracted retrospectively from medical records. Patients with a final neurological diagnosis were excluded. Results: Out of 990 patients, 900 with a neurological diagnosis were excluded leaving 90 patients without a final neurological diagnosis. Sixty-eight (75.6%) were females. Median (range) age at lumbar puncture was 34.7 (16.9-65.1) years. Age-adjusted CSF-NF-L, CSF-t-tau, and CSF-GFAP concentrations were normal in 89 (98.9%), 86 (95.6%), and 87 (96.7%) patients, respectively. Conclusion: In patients with significant neurological symptoms but in whom a neurological diagnosis could not be made, the CSF markers NF-L, t-tau, and GFAP did not indicate signs of neuronal or astroglial cell damage close to symptom onset. Consequently, increased levels of CSF markers are not expected in this patient group and, if present, should raise suspicion of underlying neurological disorders and motivate further investigations. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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