We assessed cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of tau and other biomarkers of neurodegenerative disease. CSF tau levels vary widely in reports of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). CSF samples were assayed for tau, amyloid beta1-42 (A1-42), and the isoprostane 8,12-iso-iPF2a-VI (iP) prospectively in 64 patients with FTD, retrospectively in 26 autopsied cases with FTD or Alzheimer's disease (AD), and in 13 healthy seniors. To validate our observations in vivo, we correlated CSF tau levels with cortical atrophy in 17 FTD patients using voxel-based morphometry analyses of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging. CSF levels of tau, Abeta1-42, and iP differed significantly in FTD compared with AD. Individual patient analyses showed that 34% of FD patients had significantly low levels of CSF tau, although this was never seen in AD. A discriminant analysis based on CSF levels of tau, Abeta1-42, and iP was able to classify 88.5% of these patients in a manner that corresponds to their clinical or autopsy diagnosis. Magnetic resonance imaging studies showed that CSF tau levels correlate significantly with right frontal and left temporal cortical atrophy, brain regions known to be atrophic in patients with autopsy-proved FTD. We conclude that CSF tau levels are significantly reduced in many patients with FTD.
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