Amyloid beta 1-42 and tau in cerebrospinal fluid after severe traumatic brain injury

Neurology. 2003 May 13;60(9):1457-61. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000063313.57292.00.


Objective: To determine whether CSF amyloid beta 1-42 (Abeta-42) and tau have predictive value for prognosis after head injury.

Methods: CSF samples were collected from 29 patients with severe head trauma between 1 and 284 days post-trauma. Abeta-42 and tau levels were measured using sandwich ELISA techniques and compared with CSF levels in patients with cognitive disorders and headache.

Results: At all time points, concentrations of Abeta-42 were significantly lower in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) than in control groups. A significant correlation existed for Abeta-42 levels and outcome of patients. Below a cutoff of 230 pg/mL, the sensitivity of Abeta-42 to discriminate between good outcome (Glasgow Outcome Score 4 and 5) and poor outcome (Glasgow Outcome Score 1 through 3) was 100% at a specificity of 82%. CSF tau levels were significantly higher in patients with TBI than in any control group. In patients with multiple CSF samples collected at various time points between 1 and 32 days after the trauma, tau levels increased early after TBI, peaked in the second week post-trauma, and slowly decreased thereafter. Independent of outcome, all patients had normal tau levels when CSF was collected more than 43 days post-trauma.

Conclusions: Abeta-42 and tau may play a potential role in the pathophysiology of TBI. Furthermore, the results of this study suggest that Abeta-42 may be a supportive early predictor for recovery after severe head injury.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Biomarkers
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Dementia / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Headache / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peptide Fragments / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • tau Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • amyloid beta-protein (1-42)
  • tau Proteins