Phospho-tau/total tau ratio in cerebrospinal fluid discriminates Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from other dementias

Mol Psychiatry. 2003 Mar;8(3):343-7. doi: 10.1038/


Early clinical symptoms of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) may overlap with other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal degeneration (FTD). On entering an era in which pharmaceutical treatment of CJD occurs, reliable diagnostic markers like immunodetection of 14-3-3 proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are required. However, false negative results in autopsy-proven, sporadic CJD cases, as well as false positive results in several other disorders including AD and FTD showing high CSF tau protein levels, limit the potential of this marker. Due to neuronal lysis the cytosolic fraction of total tau containing phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated isoforms is partially liberated into the CSF. Since hyperphosphorylation of tau may specifically occur in neurodegenerative diseases associated with neurofibrillary changes, we hypothesized that the phospho-tau (P-tau)/total tau ratio in CSF may be a useful marker to discriminate CJD from other neurodegenerative disorders. The P-tau/total tau ratio discriminated patients with CJD from all other neuro-degenerative disorders including patients with AD and FTD without any overlap. Although the results have to be confirmed in a larger sample, the preliminary data suggest that simultaneous measurement of total tau and P-tau in CSF may be useful to identify patients with CJD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphoproteins / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Phosphorylation
  • tau Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid*


  • Phosphoproteins
  • tau Proteins