Publications & Posters

Establishment of reference values for plasma neurofilament light based on healthy individuals aged 5-90 years

Brain Communications | July 4, 2022

Simrén J, Andreasson U, Gobom J, Suarez Calvet M, Borroni B, Gillberg C, Nyberg L, Ghidoni R, Fernell E, Johnson M, Depypere H, Hansson C, Jonsdottir IH, Zetterberg H and Blennow K

Brain Commun. 2022;4:fcac174


The recent development of assays that accurately quantify neurofilament light, a neuronal cytoskeleton protein, in plasma has generated a vast literature supporting that it is a sensitive, dynamic, and robust biomarker of neuroaxonal damage. As a result, efforts are now made to introduce plasma neurofilament light into clinical routine practice, making it an easily accessible complement to its cerebrospinal fluid counterpart. An increasing literature supports the use of plasma neurofilament light in differentiating neurodegenerative diseases from their non-neurodegenerative mimics and suggests it is a valuable biomarker for the evaluation of the effect of putative disease-modifying treatments (e.g. in multiple sclerosis). More contexts of use will likely emerge over the coming years. However, to assist clinical interpretation of laboratory test values, it is crucial to establish normal reference intervals. In this study, we sought to derive reliable cut-offs by pooling quantified plasma neurofilament light in neurologically healthy participants (5–90 years) from eight cohorts. A strong relationship between age and plasma neurofilament light prompted us to define the following age-partitioned reference limits (upper 95th percentile in each age category): 5–17 years = 7 pg/mL; 18–50 years = 10 pg/mL; 51–60 years = 15 pg/mL; 61–70 years = 20 pg/mL; 70 + years = 35 pg/mL. The established reference limits across the lifespan will aid the introduction of plasma neurofilament light into clinical routine, and thereby contribute to diagnostics and disease-monitoring in neurological practice.