Objective To assess the ability of 5 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers to differentiate between common dementia and parkinsonian disorders.
Design A cross-sectional, clinic-based study.
Participants Cerebrospinal fluid samples (N = 453) were obtained from healthy individuals serving as controls and from patients with Parkinson disease (PD), PD with dementia (PDD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), Alzheimer disease (AD), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), multiple system atrophy (MSA), or corticobasal degeneration (CBD).
Setting Neurology and memory disorder clinics.
Main Outcome Measures Cerebrospinal fluid biomarker levels in relation to clinical diagnosis.
Results Cerebrospinal fluid levels of α-synuclein were decreased in patients with PD, PDD, DLB, and MSA but increased in patients with AD. Cerebrospinal fluid levels of β-amyloid 1-42 were decreased in DLB and even further decreased in AD. Cerebrospinal fluid levels of total tau and hyperphosphorylated tau were increased in AD. Multivariate analysis revealed that these biomarkers could differentiate AD from DLB and PDD with an area under the curve of 0.90, with α-synuclein and total tau contributing most to the model. Cerebrospinal fluid levels of neurofilament light chain were substantially increased in atypical parkinsonian disorders (ie, PSP, MSA, and CBD), and multivariate analysis revealed that the level of neurofilament light chain alone could differentiate PD from atypical parkinsonian disorders, with an area under the curve of 0.93.
Conclusions Ascertainment of the α-synuclein level in CSF somewhat improves the differential diagnosis of AD vs DLB and PDD when combined with established AD biomarkers. The level of neurofilament light chain alone may differentiate PD from atypical parkinsonian disorders.