Rapid increase of 'brain-type' transferrin in cerebrospinal fluid after shunt surgery for idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus: a prognosis marker for cognitive recovery

J Biochem. 2018 Sep 1;164(3):205-213. doi: 10.1093/jb/mvy043.


Idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) is a dementia-inducing disorder. Primary cause of iNPH is speculated to be a reduction of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) absorption, which secondarily induces hydrocephalus, compression of brain, and reduction of CSF production. Patients are treated by surgically inserting a shunt to deliver excess CSF to the abdominal cavity. The prognosis for cognitive improvement after shunt surgery has been difficult to predict. We therefore investigated various CSF proteins, hoping to find a biomarker predictive of cognitive performance one to two years after shunt surgery. CSF proteins of 34 iNPH and 15 non-iNPH patients were analysed by Western blotting, revealing two glycan isoforms of transferrin (Tf); 'brain-type' Tf with N-acetylglucosaminylated glycans and 'serum-type' Tf with α2, 6-sialylated glycans. Brain-type Tf levels decreased in iNPH but rapidly returned to normal levels within 1-3 months after shunt surgery. This change was positively correlated with recovery from dementia, per Mini-Mental State Examination and Frontal Assessment Battery scores at 11.8 ± 7.7 months post-operation, suggesting that brain-type Tf is a prognostic marker for recovery from dementia after shunt surgery for iNPH. Histochemical staining with anti-Tf antibody and an N-acetylglucosamine-binding lectin suggests that brain-type Tf is secreted from choroid plexus, CSF-producing tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Choroid Plexus / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / metabolism
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / psychology
  • Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure / surgery*
  • Male
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Transferrin / cerebrospinal fluid*


  • Biomarkers
  • Polysaccharides
  • Transferrin