Blood Biomarker for Neurodegeneration: Closer But Not There Yet

MedPage Today | March 28, 2017

by Nicole Lou 
Contributing Writer, MedPage Today

Diagnosing neurodegeneration via a blood test is a wonderful idea, and a new study may bring it closer to reality.

Plasma neurofilament light (NFL) was increased in patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease dementia (mean 42.8 ng/L and 51.0 ng/L, respectively, versus 34.7 ng/L for controls, P<0.001), according to Niklas Mattsson, MD, PhD, of Sweden's Lund University, and colleagues writing in JAMA Neurology.

High plasma NFL also correlated with worse cognitive test scores at baseline for groups with Alzheimer disease and mild cognitive impairment.

Plasma NFL levels identified patients with Alzheimer's disease dementia with high accuracy (area under the curve 0.87).

"Together, these findings support that plasma NFL is a promising biomarker for neuronal injury in Alzheimer disease, which may have potential for prognosis and monitoring of disease progression," the authors concluded.

NFL levels also correlated significantly with longitudinal Mini-Mental State Examination scores for the mild cognitive impairment group.

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