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1.  RT-QuIC analysis of cerebrospinal fluid in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease 
Annals of neurology  2012;72(2):278-285.
Objective
Current cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tests for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) are based on the detection of surrogate markers of neuronal damage such as CSF 14-3-3 which are not specific for sCJD. A number of prion protein conversion assays have been developed, including real-time quaking induced conversion (RT-QuIC). The objective of this study is to investigate whether CSF RT-QuIC analysis could be used as a diagnostic test in sCJD.
Methods
An exploratory study was undertaken which analysed 108 CSF samples from patients with neuropathologically confirmed sCJD or from control patients. Of the 108 CSF samples 56 were from sCJD patients (30 female, 26 male, aged 31–84 years; 62.3 ± 13.5 years) and 52 were from control patients (26 female, 26 male, aged 43–84 years; 67.8 ± 10.4 years). A confirmatory group of 118 patients were subsequently examined which consisted of 67 cases of neuropathologically confirmed sCJD (33 female, 34 male, aged 39–82 years; 67.5 ± 9.0 years) and 51 control cases (26 female, 25 male, aged 36–87 years; 63.5 ± 11.6 years).
Results
The exploratory study showed that RT-QuIC analysis had a sensitivity of 91% and a specificity of 98% for the diagnosis of sCJD. These results were confirmed in the confirmatory study which showed that CSF RT-QuIC analysis had a sensitivity and specificity of 87% and 100% respectively.
Interpretation
This study shows that CSF RT-QuIC analysis has the potential to be a more specific diagnostic test for sCJD than current CSF tests.
doi:10.1002/ana.23589
PMCID: PMC3458796  PMID: 22926858
2.  Sensitive and specific detection of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease brain prion protein using real-time quaking-induced conversion 
The Journal of General Virology  2012;93(Pt 2):438-449.
Real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) is an assay in which disease-associated prion protein (PrP) initiates a rapid conformational transition in recombinant PrP (recPrP), resulting in the formation of amyloid that can be monitored in real time using the dye thioflavin T. It therefore has potential advantages over analogous cell-free PrP conversion assays such as protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA). The QuIC assay and the related amyloid seeding assay have been developed largely using rodent-passaged sheep scrapie strains. Given the potential RT-QuIC has for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) research and human prion test development, this study characterized the behaviour of a range of CJD brain specimens with hamster and human recPrP in the RT-QuIC assay. The results showed that RT-QuIC is a rapid, sensitive and specific test for the form of abnormal PrP found in the most commonly occurring forms of sporadic CJD. The assay appeared to be largely independent of species-related sequence differences between human and hamster recPrP and of the methionine/valine polymorphism at codon 129 of the human PrP gene. However, with the same conditions and substrate, the assay was less efficient in detecting the abnormal PrP that characterizes variant CJD brain. Comparison of these QuIC results with those previously obtained using PMCA suggested that these two seemingly similar assays differ in important respects.
doi:10.1099/vir.0.033365-0
PMCID: PMC3352348  PMID: 22031526
3.  Cerebrospinal fluid biomarker supported diagnosis of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and rapid dementias: a longitudinal multicentre study over 10 years 
Brain  2012;135(10):3051-3061.
To date, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, particularly protein 14-3-3 testing, presents an important approach in the identification of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease cases. However, one special point of criticism of 14-3-3 testing is the specificity in the differential diagnosis of rapid dementia. The constant observation of increased cerebrospinal fluid referrals in the national surveillance centres over the last years raises the concern of declining specificity due to higher number of cerebrospinal fluid tests performed in various neurological conditions. Within the framework of a European Community supported longitudinal multicentre study (‘cerebrospinal fluid markers’) we analysed the spectrum of rapid progressive dementia diagnoses, their potential influence on 14-3-3 specificity as well as results of other dementia markers (tau, phosphorylated tau and amyloid-β1–42) and evaluated the specificity of 14-3-3 in Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease diagnosis for the years 1998–2008. A total of 29 022 cerebrospinal fluid samples were analysed for 14-3-3 protein and other cerebrospinal fluid dementia markers in patients with rapid dementia and suspected Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in the participating centres. In 10 731 patients a definite diagnosis could be obtained. Protein 14-3-3 specificity was analysed for Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease with respect to increasing cerebrospinal fluid tests per year and spectrum of differential diagnosis. Ring trials were performed to ensure the comparability between centres during the reported time period. Protein 14-3-3 test specificity remained high and stable in the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease during the observed time period across centres (total specificity 92%; when compared with patients with definite diagnoses only: specificity 90%). However, test specificity varied with respect to differential diagnosis. A high 14-3-3 specificity was obtained in differentiation to other neurodegenerative diseases (95–97%) and non-neurological conditions (91–97%). We observed lower specificity in the differential diagnoses of acute neurological diseases (82–87%). A marked and constant increase in cerebrospinal fluid test referrals per year in all centres did not influence 14-3-3 test specificity and no change in spectrum of differential diagnosis was observed. Cerebrospinal fluid protein 14-3-3 detection remains an important test in the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. Due to a loss in specificity in acute neurological events, the interpretation of positive 14-3-3 results needs to be performed in the clinical context. The spectrum of differential diagnosis of rapid progressive dementia varied from neurodegenerative dementias to dementia due to acute neurological conditions such as inflammatory diseases and non-neurological origin.
doi:10.1093/brain/aws238
PMCID: PMC3470713  PMID: 23012332
rapid dementia; Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease; cerebrospinal fluid; 14-3-3; specificity; neurodegeneration; differential diagnosis in dementia
4.  Global Human Footprint on the Linkage between Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning in Reef Fishes 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(4):e1000606.
A global survey of reef fishes shows that the consequences of biodiversity loss are greater than previously anticipated as ecosystem functioning remained unsaturated with the addition of new species. Additionally, reefs worldwide, particularly those most diverse, are highly vulnerable to human impacts that are widespread and likely to worsen due to ongoing coastal overpopulation.
Difficulties in scaling up theoretical and experimental results have raised controversy over the consequences of biodiversity loss for the functioning of natural ecosystems. Using a global survey of reef fish assemblages, we show that in contrast to previous theoretical and experimental studies, ecosystem functioning (as measured by standing biomass) scales in a non-saturating manner with biodiversity (as measured by species and functional richness) in this ecosystem. Our field study also shows a significant and negative interaction between human population density and biodiversity on ecosystem functioning (i.e., for the same human density there were larger reductions in standing biomass at more diverse reefs). Human effects were found to be related to fishing, coastal development, and land use stressors, and currently affect over 75% of the world's coral reefs. Our results indicate that the consequences of biodiversity loss in coral reefs have been considerably underestimated based on existing knowledge and that reef fish assemblages, particularly the most diverse, are greatly vulnerable to the expansion and intensity of anthropogenic stressors in coastal areas.
Author Summary
The increasing intensity of human disturbance worldwide is triggering unprecedented biodiversity losses, which is raising concerns over whether ecosystems will work and continue delivering goods and services to humanity. In contrast to previous experimental studies, which describe saturating relationships between ecosystem functioning and biodiversity, we show that in reef fish systems, functioning (as standing biomass) accelerates with the addition of new species. This non-saturating relationship implies unique contributions of species to the functioning of this ecosystem and indicates that the consequences of losing biodiversity are significantly greater than previously anticipated. We also demonstrate a negative effect of human density on reef fish functioning such that for the same number of people the loss of standing biomass is significantly larger in more diverse ecosystems. Unfortunately, human effects can arise through multiple stressors (such as fishing, coastal development, and land use) and are widespread and likely to worsen, as some 75% of the world's coral reefs are currently nearby human settlements and because almost all countries with coral reefs are expected to double their populations within the next 50 to 100 years. Our results call for both further investigation of the impact of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning and strategies to manage and prevent the increasing intensity and expansion of anthropogenic stressors in coastal areas.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000606
PMCID: PMC3071368  PMID: 21483714
5.  Prioritizing Land and Sea Conservation Investments to Protect Coral Reefs 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12431.
Background
Coral reefs have exceptional biodiversity, support the livelihoods of millions of people, and are threatened by multiple human activities on land (e.g. farming) and in the sea (e.g. overfishing). Most conservation efforts occur at local scales and, when effective, can increase the resilience of coral reefs to global threats such as climate change (e.g. warming water and ocean acidification). Limited resources for conservation require that we efficiently prioritize where and how to best sustain coral reef ecosystems.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we develop the first prioritization approach that can guide regional-scale conservation investments in land- and sea-based conservation actions that cost-effectively mitigate threats to coral reefs, and apply it to the Coral Triangle, an area of significant global attention and funding. Using information on threats to marine ecosystems, effectiveness of management actions at abating threats, and the management and opportunity costs of actions, we calculate the rate of return on investment in two conservation actions in sixteen ecoregions. We discover that marine conservation almost always trumps terrestrial conservation within any ecoregion, but terrestrial conservation in one ecoregion can be a better investment than marine conservation in another. We show how these results could be used to allocate a limited budget for conservation and compare them to priorities based on individual criteria.
Conclusions/Significance
Previous prioritization approaches do not consider both land and sea-based threats or the socioeconomic costs of conserving coral reefs. A simple and transparent approach like ours is essential to support effective coral reef conservation decisions in a large and diverse region like the Coral Triangle, but can be applied at any scale and to other marine ecosystems.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012431
PMCID: PMC2930002  PMID: 20814570
6.  Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in human genetic transmissible spongiform encephalopathies 
Journal of Neurology  2009;256(10):1620-1628.
The 14-3-3 protein test has been shown to support the clinical diagnosis of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) when associated with an adequate clinical context, and a high differential potential for the diagnosis of sporadic CJD has been attributed to other cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) proteins such as tau protein, S100b and neuron specific enolase (NSE). So far there has been only limited information available about biochemical markers in genetic transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (gTSE), although they represent 10–15% of human TSEs. In this study, we analyzed CSF of 174 patients with gTSEs for 14-3-3 (n = 166), tau protein (n = 78), S100b (n = 46) and NSE (n = 50). Levels of brain-derived proteins in CSF varied in different forms of gTSE. Biomarkers were found positive in the majority of gCJD (81%) and insert gTSE (69%), while they were negative in most cases of fatal familial insomnia (13%) and Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome (10%). Disease duration and codon 129 genotype influence the findings in a different way than in sporadic CJD.
doi:10.1007/s00415-009-5163-x
PMCID: PMC3085782  PMID: 19444528
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; CSF proteins; 14-3-3 protein; Tau
7.  Urinary α1-Antichymotrypsin: A Biomarker of Prion Infection 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3870.
The occurrence of blood-borne prion transmission incidents calls for identification of potential prion carriers. However, current methods for intravital diagnosis of prion disease rely on invasive tissue biopsies and are unsuitable for large-scale screening. Sensitive biomarkers may help meeting this need. Here we scanned the genome for transcripts elevated upon prion infection and encoding secreted proteins. We found that α1-antichymotrypsin (α1-ACT) was highly upregulated in brains of scrapie-infected mice. Furthermore, α1-ACT levels were dramatically increased in urine of patients suffering from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and increased progressively throughout the disease. Increased α1-ACT excretion was also found in cases of natural prion disease of animals. Therefore measurement of urinary α1-ACT levels may be useful for monitoring the efficacy of therapeutic regimens for prion disease, and possibly also for deferring blood and organ donors that may be at risk of transmitting prion infections.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003870
PMCID: PMC2586086  PMID: 19057641
8.  No evidence for association between tau gene haplotypic variants and susceptibility to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease 
BMC Medical Genetics  2007;8:77.
Background
A polymorphism at codon 129 of the prion protein gene (PRNP) is the only well-known genetic risk factor for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). However, there is increasing evidence that other loci outside the PRNP open reading frame might play a role in CJD aetiology as well.
Methods
We studied tau protein gene (MAPT) haplotypic variations in a population of sporadic and variant CJD patients. We tested 6 MAPT haplotype tagging SNPs (htSNPs) in a Dutch population-based sample of sporadic CJD (sCJD) patients and a cognitively normal control group of similar age distribution. We genotyped the same polymorphisms in two other sample groups of sCJD cases from Italy and the UK. In addition, we compared MAPT haplotypes between sCJD and variant CJD (vCJD) patients.
Results
Single locus and haplotype analyses did not detect any significant difference between sCJD cases and controls. When we compared MAPT haplotypes between sCJD and variant CJD (vCJD) patients, we found that two of them were represented differently (H1f: 8% in sCJD versus 2% in vCJD; H1j:1% in sCJD versus 7% in vCJD). However, these two haplotypes were rare in both groups of patients, and taking the small sample sizes into account, we cannot exclude that the differences are due to chance. None of the p-values remained statistically significant after applying a multiple testing correction.
Conclusion
Our study shows no evidence for an association between MAPT gene variations and sCJD, and some weak evidence for an association to vCJD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-8-77
PMCID: PMC2235832  PMID: 18072964
9.  Brain-derived proteins in the CSF, do they correlate with brain pathology in CJD? 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:35.
Background
Brain derived proteins such as 14-3-3, neuron-specific enolase (NSE), S 100b, tau, phosphorylated tau and Aβ1–42 were found to be altered in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) patients. The pathogenic mechanisms leading to these abnormalities are not known, but a relation to rapid neuronal damage is assumed. No systematic analysis on brain-derived proteins in the CSF and neuropathological lesion profiles has been performed.
Methods
CSF protein levels of brain-derived proteins and the degree of spongiform changes, neuronal loss and gliosis in various brain areas were analyzed in 57 CJD patients.
Results
We observed three different patterns of CSF alteration associated with the degree of cortical and subcortical changes. NSE levels increased with lesion severity of subcortical areas. Tau and 14-3-3 levels increased with minor pathological changes, a negative correlation was observed with severity of cortical lesions. Levels of the physiological form of the prion protein (PrPc) and Aβ1–42 levels correlated negatively with cortical pathology, most clearly with temporal and occipital lesions.
Conclusion
Our results indicate that the alteration of levels of brain-derived proteins in the CSF does not only reflect the degree of neuronal damage, but it is also modified by the localization on the brain pathology. Brain specific lesion patterns have to be considered when analyzing CSF neuronal proteins.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-35
PMCID: PMC1592107  PMID: 16989662

Results 1-9 (9)