Behavioral correlates of cerebrospinal fluid amino acid and biogenic amine neurotransmitter alterations in dementia

Yannick Vermeiren, Nathalie Le Bastard, An Van Hemelrijck, Wilhelmus H. Drinkenburg, Sebastiaan Engelborghs, Peter P. De Deyn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Behavioral and psychological signs and symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are a heterogeneous group of behavioral and psychiatric disturbances occurring in dementia patients of any etiology. Research suggests that altered activities of dopaminergic, serotonergic, (nor)adrenergic, as well as amino acid neurotransmitter systems play a role in the etiopathogenesis of BPSD. In this study we attempted to identify cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) neurochemical correlates of BPSD to provide further insight into its underlying neurochemical pathophysiological mechanisms. Methods: Patients with probable Alzheimer's disease (AD; n = 202), probable AD with cerebrovascular disease (n = 37), probable frontotemporal dementia (FTD; n = 32), and probable dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB; n = 26) underwent behavioral assessment and lumbar puncture. CSF levels of six amino acids and several biogenic amines and metabolites were analyzed using ultraperformance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection and reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection. Results: In the AD patients, CSF homovanillic acid/5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (HVA/5HIAA) ratios correlated positively with anxieties/phobias, whereas CSF levels of taurine correlated negatively with depression and behavioral disturbances in general. In FTD patients, CSF levels of glutamate correlated negatively with verbally agitated behavior. In DLB patients, CSF levels of HVA correlated negatively with hallucinations. Conclusions: Several neurotransmitter systems can be linked to one specific behavioral syndrome depending on the dementia subtype. In addition to biogenic amines and metabolites, amino acids seem to play a major role in the neurochemical etiology of BPSD as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-498
Number of pages11
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amino acids
  • Biogenic amines and metabolites
  • BPSD
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Dementia
  • Neurochemistry


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