For patients with brain tumors identification of diagnostic and prognostic markers in easy accessible biological material, such as plasma or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), would greatly facilitate patient management. MIC-1/GDF15 (growth differentiation factor 15) is a secreted protein of the TGF-beta superfamily and emerged as a candidate marker exhibiting increasing mRNA expression during malignant progression of glioma. Determination of MIC-1/GDF15 protein levels by ELISA in the CSF of a cohort of 94 patients with intracranial tumors including gliomas, meningioma and metastasis revealed significantly increased concentrations in glioblastoma patients (median, 229 pg/ml) when compared with control cohort of patients treated for non-neoplastic diseases (median below limit of detection of 156 pg/ml, p < 0.0001, Mann-Whitney test). However, plasma MIC-1/GDF15 levels were not elevated in the matching plasma samples from these patients. Most interestingly, patients with glioblastoma and increased CSF MIC-1/GDF15 had a shorter survival (p = 0.007, log-rank test). In conclusion, MIC-1/GDF15 protein measured in the CSF may have diagnostic and prognostic value in patients with intracranial tumors. (c) 2009 UICC