Have you used a home testing kit for a medical diagnosis?

COVID-19 RATs are an example of these types of tests but we are interested in the many others on the market.

The University of Wollongong is conducting a small study about them and we'd like to hear from you if you have used one or considered using one.

Simply complete a short survey at:

From here, we may invite you to take part in a paid interview.

For more information, contact Dr Patti Shih: pshih@uow.edu.au

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At a glance

Also known as

Desialated transferrin; Asialotransferrin; CSF-specific transferrin; Tau protein; Request for CSF leak

Why get tested?

To help identify cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaking from the skull.

When to get tested?

If there is a watery discharge from your nose or ear (rhinorrhoea or otorrhoea) after you have suffered a skull fracture or after brain surgery.

Sample required?

A sample of the suspicious watery discharge is collected into a plastic tube.

Test preparation needed?


What is being tested?

Beta-2-transferrin is a form of the protein transferrin that is present in cerebrolspinal fluid (CSF), but not usually found in blood, nasal secretions or other body fluids. It is used to distinguish CSF from other watery discharge from the nose or ear after a traumatic injury to the brain and or spine.

How is the sample collected for testing?

The suspicious watery discharge will be collected into a plain plastic tube.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.

The Test

How is it used?

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is normally found only within the brain and the spinal canal. If you suffer an injury (e.g. skull fracture) which causes a tear in the membranes covering the brain and spine, or have had brain surgery, CSF may leak out. This may cause a watery discharge from your nose or ear (rhinorrhoea or otorrhoea). It may be necessary to distinguish CSF from other watery discharges in these circumstances. This involves looking for the presence of something which would normally only be found in CSF, such as beta-2-transferrin. This is a form of transferrin present in CSF but not usually found in blood, nasal secretions or other body fluids.

When is it requested?

Beta-2-transferrin would be requested when there is doubt over the origin of a watery ear or nose discharge, following a high risk event such as a head injury or brain surgery.

What does the test result mean?

If the fluid from the nose or ear is indeed CSF, beta-2-transferrin would be detected when the fluid sample was analysed. Sometimes the result is inconclusive and in such cases the laboratory may test for another protein known as beta trace protein. 

Is there anything else I should know?

CSF leaking from the nose or ear is very rare. Most nasal and ear discharges have an obvious straightforward explanation e.g. infection, and this type of analysis is only required in a very small number of cases where a doctor has a high level of suspicion about the source of discharge.

Common Questions

Can this be measured at my doctor's office?

No, a specialist laboratory using techniques such as immunofixation electrophoresis is required.

Last Review Date: May 30, 2022

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