Abstract Background Synapse degeneration is an early event in pathological frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Consequently, a surrogate marker of synapse loss could be used to monitor early pathologic changes in patients with underlying FTLD. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship of antemortem cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of 8 synaptic proteins with postmortem global tau and TDP-43 burden and cognitive performance and to assess their diagnostic capacity in a neuropathological FTLD cohort. Methods We included patients with a neuropathological confirmation of FTLD-Tau (n = 24, mean age-at-CSF 67 years ± 11), FTLD-TDP (n = 25, 66 years ± 9) or AD (n = 25, 73 years ± 6) as well as cognitively normal controls (n = 35, 69 years ± 7) from the Penn FTD Center and ADRC. We used a semi-quantitative measure of tau and TDP-43 inclusions to quantify pathological burden across 16 brain regions. Statistical methods included Spearman rank correlations, one-way analysis of covariance, ordinal regression, step-wise multiple linear regression and receiver-operating characteristic curves. Result CSF calsyntenin-1 and neurexin-2a were correlated in all patient groups (rs = .55 to .88). In FTLD-TDP, we observed low antemortem CSF levels of calsyntenin-1 and neurexin-2a compared to AD (.72-fold, p = .001, .77-fold, p = .04, respectively) and controls (.80-fold, p = .02, .78-fold, p = .02, respectively), which were inversely associated with post-mortem global TDP-43 burden (regression r2 = .56, p = .007 and r2 = .57, p = .006, respectively). A multimarker panel including calsyntenin-1 was associated with TDP-43 burden (r2 = .69, p = .003) and MMSE score (r2 = .19, p = .03) in FTLD. A second multimarker synaptic panel, also including calsyntenin-1, was associated with MMSE score in FTLD-tau (r2 = .49, p = .04) and improved diagnostic performance to discriminate FTLD-Tau and FTLD-TDP neuropathologic subtypes (AUC = .83). Conclusion These synaptic panels have potential in the differential diagnosis of FTLD neuropathologic subtypes and as surrogate markers of cognitive performance in future clinical trials targeting TDP-43 or tau.
Date made available9 Apr 2022

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