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OBJECTIVES: Biomarkers for the diagnosis of motoneuron diseases (MND) are urgently needed to improve the diagnostic pathway, patient stratification and monitoring. The aim of this study was to validate candidate markers for MND in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and specify cut-offs based on large patient cohorts by especially considering patients who were seen under the initial differential diagnosis (MND mimics). METHODS: In a prospective study, we investigated CSF of 455 patients for neurofilament light chain (NfL), phosphorylated heavy chain (pNfH), tau protein (Tau) and phospho-tau protein (pTau). Analysed cohorts included patients with apparently sporadic and familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) (MND, n=253), MND mimics (n=85) and neurological control groups. Cut-off values were specified, and diagnostic performance and correlation with progression were analysed. RESULTS: Nfs were significantly higher in the MND group compared to the control groups, whereas Tau and pTau did not differ. At a cut-off level of 2200 pg/mL for NfL, a 77% diagnostic sensitivity (CI 71% to 82%), 85% specificity (CI 79% to 90%) and 87% positive predictive value (PPV) (CI 81% to 91%) were achieved. For pNfH, we calculated 83% sensitivity (CI 78% to 88%), 77% specificity (CI 71% to 83%) and 82% PPV (CI 77% to 86%) at 560 pg/mL. There were no significant differences between sporadic and genetic ALS or PLS. Nf levels were elevated at early disease stage, and correlated moderately with MND progression and duration. CONCLUSIONS: Neurofilaments in CSF have a high relevance for the differential diagnosis of MNDs and should be included in the diagnostic work-up of patients. Their value as prognostic markers should be investigated further.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/jnnp-2015-311387

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Publication Date

01/2016

Volume

87

Pages

12 - 20

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Biomarkers, DNA, Diagnosis, Differential, Disease Progression, Female, Humans, Intermediate Filaments, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Neuron Disease, Neurofilament Proteins, Neurologic Examination, Predictive Value of Tests, Prognosis, Prospective Studies, Reproducibility of Results, Young Adult, tau Proteins