AIM: To study cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) activity of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in patients with neurological diseases. METHODS: CSF tPA and urokinase (uPA) activities were studied using an immunocapture assay and zymography in 44 patients with neurological disease and 20 reference subjects. The patient group comprised three patients with meningitis, 21 with encephalitis, nine with acute lymphoblastic (n = 7) and myeloid (n = 2) leukaemia, seven with multiple sclerosis, three with facial paresis, and one with polyradiculitis. RESULTS: Raised tPA activities were observed in patients with multiple sclerosis, leukaemia and encephalitis. In contrast, there were no differences in the mean activities of tPA in patients with meningitis or other diseases compared with the reference subjects. The highest tPA activities were found in patients with multiple sclerosis. The mean activity in patients with leukaemia was higher than in those with meningitis and polyradiculitis, but not encephalitis and facial paresis. Although the CSF tPA activity correlated positively with age in reference subjects, no correlation was observed in patients. Samples were qualitatively screened for both tPA and uPA activity by zymography and positive samples were quantitated. Some of the samples had quantifiable levels of uPA activity: three of seven multiple sclerosis samples, 10 of 21 samples from patients with encephalitis and five of nine leukaemic samples. The highest activities were recorded in patients with leukaemia. uPA was not detected in the CSF of the patients with meningitis, facial paresis or polyradiculitis. CONCLUSIONS: Plasminogen activator activity can be measured reliably in CSF and the assessment of tPA activity may be useful for studying the pathogenesis of neurological diseases.
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