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June 1999

Cerebrospinal Fluid Opens a Window on Alzheimer Disease

Arch Neurol. 1999;56(6):655-656. doi:10.1001/archneur.56.6.655

BIOLOGICAL MARKERS of Alzheimer disease (AD) have been intensively pursued during the past decade. The quest has been fueled by gains in our knowledge of AD brain pathology and its molecular underpinnings, providing important ideas about what to measure in patients to support diagnosis and treatment. There are 2 major thrusts at present. Neuroimaging techniques provide structural or metabolic information about the brain and have identified atrophy or decreased blood flow in the hippocampus and other brain areas as indices that discriminate between patients with AD and elderly control patients. Studies examining biochemical markers related to the neuropathology of AD have identified several promising candidates in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). A recent consensus report of an expert working group1 highlighted the need to develop and refine methods for early and accurate detection of AD, surveyed potential uses of biological markers, and proposed criteria to evaluate diagnostic markers.

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