CSF tau correlates with CJD disease severity and cognitive decline

O. S. Cohen, J. Chapman, A. D. Korczyn, N. Warman-Alaluf, Z. Nitsan, S. Appel, E. Kahana, H. Rosenmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is the most common prion disease in humans. The clinical diagnosis of CJD is supported by a combination of electroencephalogram, MRI, and the presence in the CSF of biomarkers. CSF tau is a marker for neuronal damage and tangle pathology, and is correlated with cognitive status in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Objectives: The aim of this study was to test whether tau levels in the CSF also correlate with the degree of the neurological deficit and cognitive decline in patients with CJD as reflected by various clinical scales that assess disease severity and cognitive performance. Methods: Consecutive patients with familial CJD (fCJD) were examined by a neurologist who performed several tests including minimental status examination (MMSE), frontal assessment battery (FAB), NIH stroke scale (NIHSS), CJD neurological scale (CJD-NS), and the expanded disability status scale (EDSS). CSF tau was tested as part of the workout, and the correlation was tested using Pearson correlation. Results: Fifty-two patients with fCJD were recruited to the study (35 males, mean age 59.4 ± 5.7, range 48-75 years). A significant negative correlation was found between CSF tau levels and the cognitive performance of the patients as reflected by their MMSE and FAB scores. In addition, a significant positive correlation was found between tau levels and the clinical disease severity scales of CJD-NS, NIHSS, and EDSS. Conclusion: The correlation between tau levels and the disease severity and degree of cognitive decline in patients with fCJD suggests that tau can be a biomarker reflecting the extent of neuronal damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-123
Number of pages5
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive decline
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • E200K mutation
  • Tau protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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