Importance of Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) in Our Research


What is Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)?

  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a fluid made in the brain that helps protect the brain and the spinal cord. Importantly, it contains numerous proteins that are important for brain health. It can also contain inflammatory markers and other aging related proteins that are associated with disease states, including early markers that are potential risks for Alzheimer’s disease. The CSF provides an important and unique window into brain health that helps us better understanding factors that contribute to both healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

Why Contribute Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) to a Research Study?

  • CSF is a special gift to aging research, as it allows us to examine brain proteins during a person’s life. To help detail why this is such an important part of research, please see the following videos, which were developed at the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Center in St. Louis https://knightadrc.wustl.edu/Education/CSF_Parts.htm

Is it Possible to See What a Lumbar Puncture Procedure Entails?

  • Yes! The University of Kentucky’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center has produced a wonderful video on the lumbar puncture procedure. Note that lumbar punctures at our Center are conducted in a supported, upright position rather than being conducted while laying on your side.
  • Watch a lumbar puncture procedure

What are the Risks of a Lumbar Puncture?

  • CSF collection is safe and typically involves minimal discomfort. You may experience minor pain or bruising where the needle is inserted. The main risk of the lumbar puncture procedure is a headache following the procedure.  These headaches are typically mild, and may occur in about 5-10% or less of those who undergo a lumbar puncture. Being well hydrated (drinking plenty of water) both before and after your procedure may decrease the risk of headache. 
  • A more severe headache can occur after a lumbar puncture, but it is rare. To minimize risk, we use a special type of needle (called an atraumatic needle) in all of our research studies. With this type of special needle, the risk of a severe headache has been shown to be very low – approximately 1% or less.  These types of headaches are typically responsive to treatment within a few hours.

To Learn More about the procedure, please see our Lumbar Puncture Fact Sheet, which we adopted from the University of Wisconsin’s Alzheimer’s Center

Who do I contact if I have questions about Cerebrospinal Fluid Studies?

If you have questions about our studies, including those that involve CSF, please contact:

  • Katrina Bengtson, BA: Study Research Coordinator
    • katrina.bengtson@cuanschutz.edu
    • 303-724-2048
  • Brianne Bettcher, PhD: Principal investigator
    • brianne.bettcher@cuanschutz.edu

We will also be happy to put you in contact with our study physicians to answer any questions.