Publications & Posters

Neurofilament light chain and α-synuclein RT-QuIC as differential diagnostic biomarkers in parkinsonisms and related syndromes

npj Parkinson’s Disease | October 11, 2021

Quadalti C, Calandra-Buonaura G, Baiardi S, Mastrangelo A, Rossi M, Zenesini C, Giannini G, Candelise N, Sambati L, Polischi B, Plazzi G, Capellari S, Cortelli P and Parchi P

NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2021;7:93


Neurofilament light chain (NfL) and α-synuclein oligomeric seeds (α-syn-s) are promising biomarkers for patients with parkinsonism. We assessed their performance in discriminating Parkinson disease (PD) from atypical parkinsonisms (APDs) and evaluated the association between NfL levels and clinical measures of disease severity. We measured NfL in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and/or plasma by immunoassays and α-syn-s in CSF by real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) in patients with PD (n = 153), multiple system atrophy (MSA) (n = 80), progressive supranuclear palsy/cortico-basal syndrome (PSP/CBS) (n = 58), dementia with Lewy bodies (n = 64), isolated REM-sleep behaviour disorder (n = 19), and isolated autonomic failure (n = 30). Measures of disease severity included disease duration, UPDRS-III score, Hoehn and Yahr stage, orthostatic hypotension, MMSE score, and CSF amyloid-beta profile. Both CSF NfL (cNfL) and plasma NfL (pNfL) levels were markedly elevated in APDs, and allowed differentiation with PD (vs. APDs, cNfL AUC 0.96; pNfL AUC 0.95; vs. MSA cNfL AUC 0.99; pNfL AUC 0.97; vs. PSP/CBS cNfL AUC 0.94; pNfL AUC 0.94). RT-QuIC detected α-syn-s in 91.4% of PD, but only 2.5% of APDs (all MSA). In PD/PDD, motor scales significantly correlated with cNfL levels. Although pNfL and both cNfL and α-syn-s accurately distinguished PD from APDs, the combined assessment of CSF markers provided a higher diagnostic value (PD vs. APDs AUC 0.97; vs. MSA AUC 0.97; vs. PSP/CBS AUC 0.99) than RT-QuIC alone (p = 0.047 vs. APDs; p = 0.002 vs MSA; p = 0.007 vs PSP/CBS), or cNfL alone (p = 0.011 vs. APDs; p = 0.751 vs MSA; p = 0.0001 vs. PSP/CBS). The results support the use of these assays in specialised clinics.