We aimed to evaluate the potential of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) axonal damage biomarker NfH(SMI35) in the laboratory-supported differential diagnosis of parkinsonian syndromes. Patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD; n = 22), multiple-system atrophy (MSA; n = 21), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP; n = 21), corticobasal degeneration (CBD; n = 6), and age-matched controls (n = 45) were included. CSF levels of NfH(SMI35) were measured using ELISA. Levels of CSF NfH(SMI35) were elevated in PSP compared to PD and controls (P < 0.05 each). They were also significantly higher in MSA than in PD and controls (P < 0.05 each). NfH(SMI35) differentiated PD from PSP with a sensitivity of 76.5% and a specificity of 94.4%. Axonal damage as measured by CSF NfH(SMI35) is most prominent in the more rapidly progressive syndromes PSP and MSA as compared to PD or CBD. CSF NfH(SMI35) may therefore be of some value for the laboratory-supported differential diagnosis of atypical parkinsonian syndromes.
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