Authors: Tarnaris A, Toma AK, Pullen E, Chapman MD, Petzold A, Cipolotti L, Kitchen ND, Keir G, Lemieux L, Watkins LD.
INTRODUCTION: It has still not been clearly established whether the cognitive deficits of idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) are caused by a disturbance in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) dynamics or an underlying metabolic disturbance.
OBJECTIVE: To identify the possible associations between biochemical markers, the neuroimaging characteristics, and cognitive deficits of patients undergoing investigations for possible iNPH.
METHODS: A CSF sample obtained during a lumbar puncture from 10 patients with iNPH was analyzed for several biochemical markers (lactate, 8-isoprostane, vascular endothelial growth factor , neurofilament heavy protein, glial fibrillary acidic protein, amyloid beta 1-42, and total tau). All patients underwent a battery of neuropsychological testing and imaging as part of their selection process for their suitability for CSF diversion surgical procedure. Volumetric analysis of imaging was carried out measuring the ventricular volume (VV), intracranial volume (ICV), periventricular lucencies, deep white matter hyperintensities, and white matter (WM) volume, as well as their ratios.
RESULTS: A significant negative correlation of preoperative symptom duration and total tau levels (R = -0.841, P = .002) was found. There was a significant positive correlation (R = 0.648, P = .043) between the levels of VEGF and the VV/ICV ratio. There was a significant positive correlation of the levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein and the VV/deep white matter hyperintensities ratio (R = 0.828, P = .006). A significant negative correlation was observed between the levels of neurofilament heavy protein and the VV/ICV ratio (R = -0.657, P = .039) and the WM volume (R = -0.778, P = .023). Lactate levels were lower for patients performing in the normal range on the Recognition Memory Test for faces. Patients who performed better in the Recognition Memory Test words test had higher ICV volumes. All the patients in this study showed below normal performance when the subcortical function was assessed.
CONCLUSION: The positive correlation of VEGF with the severity of ventriculomegaly may indicate that this is because of the transmantle pressure gradient; this response may not be because of hypoxia but represents an attempt at neuroregeneration. The degree of reactive gliosis correlates inversely with the severity of WM lesions. Neuronal degeneration is negatively correlated with the volume of the WM in these patients. The small association of volumetry and the cognitive profile of these patients may be consistent with a direct biochemical disturbance being responsible for the cognitive deficit observed. Ongoing studies with set protocols for neuropsychological assessment and volumetric analysis are warranted to further elucidate on the preliminary results of the current study.