Blood Neurofilament Light Chain: The Neurologist’s Troponin?
BIOMEDICINES | NOVEMBER 21, 2020
Thebault S, Booth RA and Freedman MS.
Biomedicines 2020, 8(11), 523
Blood neurofilament light chain (NfL) is a marker of neuro-axonal injury showing promising associations with outcomes of interest in several neurological conditions. Although initially discovered and investigated in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the recent development of ultrasensitive digital immunoassay technologies has enabled reliable detection in serum/plasma, obviating the need for invasive lumbar punctures for longitudinal assessment. The most evidence for utility relates to multiple sclerosis (MS) where it serves as an objective measure of both the inflammatory and degenerative pathologies that characterise this disease. In this review, we summarise the physiology and pathophysiology of neurofilaments before focusing on the technological advancements that have enabled reliable quantification of NfL in blood. As the test case for clinical translation, we then highlight important recent developments linking blood NfL levels to outcomes in MS and the next steps to be overcome before this test is adopted on a routine clinical basis.
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