Use of Alzheimer's Disease Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in A Tertiary Care Memory Clinic

Can J Neurol Sci. 2022 Mar;49(2):203-209. doi: 10.1017/cjn.2021.67. Epub 2021 Apr 13.


Introduction: Alzheimer's disease (AD) cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers are promising tools to help identify the underlying pathology of neurocognitive disorders. In this manuscript, we report our experience with AD CSF biomarkers in 262 consecutive patients in a tertiary care memory clinic.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 262 consecutive patients who underwent lumbar puncture (LP) and CSF measurement of AD biomarkers (Aβ1-42, total tau or t-tau, and p-tau181). We studied the safety of the procedure and its impact on patient's diagnosis and management.

Results: The LP allowed to identify underlying AD pathology in 72 of the 121 patients (59%) with early onset amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) with a high probability of progression to AD; to distinguish the behavioral/dysexecutive variant of AD from the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) in 25 of the 45 patients (55%) with an atypical neurobehavioral profile; to identify AD as the underlying pathology in 15 of the 27 patients (55%) with atypical or unclassifiable primary progressive aphasia (PPA); and to distinguish AD from other disorders in 9 of the 29 patients (31%) with psychiatric differential diagnoses and 19 of the 40 patients (47%) with lesional differential diagnoses (normal pressure hydrocephalus, encephalitis, prion disease, etc.). No major complications occurred following the LP.

Interpretation: Our results suggest that CSF analysis is a safe and effective diagnostic tool in select patients with neurocognitive disorders. We advocate for a wider use of this biomarker in tertiary care memory clinics in Canada.

Keywords: Alzheimers; Behavioral Neurology; Biomarker; Cerebrospinal Fluid; FDG-PET; Neuropsychology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / psychology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Peptide Fragments / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tertiary Healthcare
  • tau Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • tau Proteins

Grants and funding