Concentration gradients of monoamines, their precursors and metabolites in serial lumbar cerebrospinal fluid of neurologically healthy patients determined with a novel LC–MS/MS technique

Celien Tigchelaar*, Willemien D. Muller, Sawal D. Atmosoerodjo, Klaas J. Wardenaar, Ido P. Kema, Anthony R. Absalom, Martijn van Faassen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Potential biomarkers for neuropsychiatric disorders are cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) monoamines and their corresponding precursors and metabolites. During CSF sampling, CSF flows towards the lumbar sampling site from more cranial regions. To compare the results of studies in which different CSF volumes were acquired, it is important to know if ventricular-lumbar concentration gradients exist. This has only been addressed for a few biogenic amines, and almost exclusively in neurologically unwell patients due to the burden of a lumbar puncture (necessary to obtain CSF). The aim of our study was to determine if concentration gradients exist for routinely measured CSF constituents and biogenic amines in neurologically healthy patients. We applied a novel ultrasensitive liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) method for the simultaneous quantification of multiple monoamines, precursors and metabolites in CSF and plasma. Methods: CSF and blood samples were collected from twenty neurologically healthy patients undergoing spinal anaesthesia. Ten mL of lumbar CSF was collected in five consecutive two mL fractions. We determined leucocyte and erythrocyte counts, glucose, albumin and protein concentrations and quantified monoamines, precursors and metabolites on each of the fractions using LC–MS/MS. Results: In twenty patients (60% male; median age: 46 years), dopamine, DOPAC, 3-MT, HVA, noradrenaline, normetanephrine and 5-HIAA concentrations increased from the first to the last CSF fraction (all p < 0.001). CSF adrenaline concentrations were below the detection limit, whereas serotonin measurements were regarded as unreliable. Albumin and total protein levels decreased significantly across CSF fractions. Conclusions: A ventricular-lumbar CSF concentration gradient existed for most of the investigated analytes. This is a novel finding for dopamine, noradrenaline, 3-MT and normetanephrine. These results contribute to the understanding of the neurobiology and underline the importance of standardized procedures for CSF handling to allow comparisons between studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Number of pages12
JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13-Feb-2023


  • Biogenic amines
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
  • Concentration gradients
  • LC–MS/MS

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