Objective: Diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is complicated by the overlap of clinical symptoms with other dementia disorders. Development of robust fluid biomarkers is critical to improve the diagnostic work-up of FTD.
Methods: CSF concentrations of placental growth factor (PlGF) were measured in the discovery cohort including patients with FTD (n = 27), Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia (n = 75), DLB or PDD (n = 47), subcortical vascular dementia (VaD, n = 33), mild cognitive impairment that later converted to AD (MCI-AD, n = 34), stable MCI (sMCI, n = 62), and 50 cognitively healthy controls from the Swedish BioFINDER study. For validation, CSF PlGF was measured in additional independent cohort of FTD patients (n = 22) and controls (n = 18) from the Netherlands.
Results: In the discovery cohort, MCI, MCI-AD, AD dementia, DLB-PDD, VaD, and FTD patients all showed increased CSF levels of PlGF compared with controls (sMCI P = 0.019; MCI-AD P = 0.005; AD dementia, DLB-PDD, VaD, and FTD all P < 0.001). PlGF levels were 1.8-2.1-fold higher in FTD than in AD, DLB-PDD and VaD (all P < 0.001). PlGF distinguished with high accuracy FTD from controls and sMCI performing better than tau/Aβ42 (AUC 0.954-0.996 versus 0.564-0.754, P < 0.001). A combination of PlGF, tau, and Aβ42 (tau/Aβ42/PlGF) was more accurate than tau/Aβ42 when differentiating FTD from a group of other dementias (AUC 0.972 vs. 0.932, P < 0.01). Increased CSF levels of PlGF in FTD compared with controls were corroborated in the validation cohort.
Interpretation: CSF PlGF is increased in FTD compared with other dementia disorders, MCI, and healthy controls and might be useful as a diagnostic biomarker of FTD.