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Clinical utility of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in the evaluation of cognitive impairment: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Background The analytical and clinical validity of cerebrospinal (CSF) biomarkers has been extensively researched in dementia. Further work is needed to assess the ability of these biomarkers to improve diagnosis, management and health outcomes in the clinical setting

Objectives To assess the added value and clinical utility of CSF biomarkers in the diagnostic assessment of cognitively impaired patients under evaluation for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Methods Systematic literature searches of Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Web of Science research databases were conducted on 17 December 2022. Data from relevant studies were extracted and independently screened for quality using a tool for bias. Clinical utility was measured by clinicians’ changes in diagnosis, diagnostic confidence and patient management (when available), after their examination of patients’ CSF biomarkers. Cost-effectiveness was assessed by consideration of additional cost per patient and quality-adjusted life years.

Results Searches identified 17 studies comprising 2090 patient participants and 593 clinicians. The meta-analysis revealed that clinicians’ use of CSF biomarkers resulted in a pooled percentage change in diagnosis of 25% (95% CI 14 to 37), an increase in diagnostic confidence of 14% (95% CI 9 to 18) and a pooled proportion of patients whose management changed of 31% (95% CI 12 to 50). CSF biomarkers were deemed cost-effective, particularly in memory services, where pre-test AD prevalence is higher compared with a primary care setting.

Conclusions CSF biomarkers can be a helpful additional diagnostic tool for clinicians assessing patients with cognitive impairment. In particular, CSF biomarkers consistently improved clinicians’ confidence in diagnosing AD and influenced on diagnostic change and patient management. Further research is needed to study the clinical utility of blood-based biomarkers in the clinical setting.

  • CSF

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