Background: Recently, TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) was identified as the major component of ubiquitin-positive tau-negative neuronal and glial inclusions in the most common form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It was demonstrated that different TDP-43 profiles correspond to clinical phenotypes of FTLD or ALS subgroups, and the differential diagnostic potential of TDP-43 was suggested.
Objectives: To examine TDP-43 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and to analyze whether it could serve as a diagnostic marker.
Design: We characterized CSF TDP-43 by immunoblot using different TDP-43 antibodies and determined the relative TDP-43 levels in CSF samples from patients.
Setting: Academic research.
Patients: Twelve patients with FTLD, 15 patients with ALS, 9 patients with ALS plus FTLD, 3 patients with ALS plus additional signs of frontal disinhibition, and 13 control subjects.
Main outcome measures: Results of TDP-43 immunoblot.
Results: Polyclonal TDP-43 antibodies recognized a 45-kDa band in all analyzed samples. Two monoclonal and N-terminus-specific antibodies did not detect any specific bands, but C-terminus-specific antibodies detected a 45-kDa band and additional bands at approximately 20 kDa in all CSF samples. Relative quantification of 45-kDa bands revealed significant differences among the diagnostic groups (P =.046). Specifically, patients with ALS (P =.03) and FTLD (P =.02) had higher TDP-43 levels than controls but with a prominent overlap of values.
Conclusion: Although there is no evidence of pathologically altered TDP-43 proteins in CSF, TDP-43 levels in CSF might aid in characterizing subgroups of patients across the ALS and FTLD disease spectrum.