Background: Pathogenic mutations in the granulin gene (GRN) are causative in 5-10% of patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), mostly leading to reduced progranulin protein (PGRN) levels. Upcoming therapeutic trials focus on enhancing PGRN levels.
Methods: Fluctuations in plasma PGRN (n = 41) and its relationship with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, n = 32) and specific single nucleotide polymorphisms were investigated in pre- and symptomatic GRN mutation carriers and controls.
Results: Plasma PGRN levels were lower in carriers than in controls and showed a mean coefficient of variation of 5.3% in carriers over 1 week. Although plasma PGRN correlated with CSF PGRN in carriers (r = 0.54, p = 0.02), plasma only explained 29% of the variability in CSF PGRN. rs5848, rs646776 and rs1990622 genotypes only partly explained the variability of PGRN levels between subjects.
Conclusions: Plasma PGRN is relatively stable over 1 week and therefore seems suitable for treatment monitoring of PGRN-enhancing agents. Since plasma PGRN only moderately correlated with CSF PGRN, CSF sampling will additionally be needed in therapeutic trials.
Keywords: Biomarker; Cerebrospinal fluid; Frontotemporal dementia; Granulin gene (GRN); Plasma; Progranulin protein; Single nucleotide polymorphism.