Cerebrospinal fluid analysis: disease-related data patterns and evaluation programs

J Neurol Sci. 2001 Mar 1;184(2):101-22. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(00)00501-3.


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis is a basic tool for diagnosis of neurological diseases. Knowledge regarding blood-CSF barrier function (molecular flux/CSF flow theory) and neuroimmunology is reviewed to aid understanding and evaluation of CSF data. Disease-related immunoglobulin patterns (IgG, IgA, IgM with reference to albumin) are described in CSF/serum quotient diagrams with the hyperbolic reference range for blood-derived protein fractions in CSF. Clinical relevance of complementary analyses (cytology, PCR, oligoclonal IgG, antibody detection and brain-derived proteins) is briefly discussed. Integrated CSF data reports are shown with numerical and graphical data representation, reference range-related interpretation and diagnosis-related comments. The principles and rationale of general CSF analysis reported in this review should enable the reader to accurately interpret CSF data profiles, and to plan a proper evaluation of new brain- or blood-derived analytes in CSF.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Bacterial Infections / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Central Nervous System Viral Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Lyme Neuroborreliosis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Nervous System Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Neurosyphilis / cerebrospinal fluid


  • Albumins
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins
  • Immunoglobulins