Plasma progranulin levels for frontotemporal dementia in clinical practice: a 10-year French experience

Neurobiol Aging. 2020 Jul;91:167.e1-167.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.02.014. Epub 2020 Feb 21.


GRN mutations are frequent causes of familial frontotemporal degeneration. Although there is no clear consensual threshold, plasma progranulin levels represent an efficient biomarker for predicting GRN mutations when decreased. We evaluated plasma levels to determine whether it could also predict age at onset, clinical phenotype, or disease progression in 160 GRN carriers. Importantly, progranulin levels were influenced by gender, with lower levels in male than in female patients in our study. Although we found no correlation with age at onset or with clinical phenotype, we confirmed that decreased level predicts GRN mutations, even in presymptomatic carriers more than four decades before disease onset. We also provided first evidence for the stability of levels throughout longitudinal trajectory in carriers, over a 4-year time span. Finally, we confirmed that progranulin levels constitute a reliable, cost-effective marker, suitable as a screening tool in patients with familial frontotemporal degeneration, and more broadly in patients without family history or with atypical presentations who are less likely to be referred for molecular diagnosis.

Keywords: C9orf72; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Plasma progranulin levels; Progranulin (GRN).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Female
  • France
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / genetics
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / genetics
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Progranulins / blood*
  • Progranulins / genetics
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Progranulins