Publications & Posters

Neurofilament light chain and glial fibrillary acid protein levels are elevated in post-mild COVID-19 or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 cases

Scientific Reports | March 18, 2024

Plantone D, Stufano A, Righi D, Locci S, Iavicoli I, Lovreglio P, De Stefano N.

Sci Rep. 2024


Given the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears of paramount importance to assess the cognitive effects on the population returning to work after COVID-19 resolution. Serum levels of neurofilament light chain (sNfL) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (sGFAP) represent promising biomarkers of neuro-axonal damage and astrocytic activation. In this cohort study, we explored the association between sNfL and sGFAP concentrations and cognitive performance in a group of 147 adult workers with a previous asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection or mild COVID-19, one week and, in 49 of them, ten months after SARS-Cov2 negativization and compared them to a group of 82 age and BMI-matched healthy controls (HCs). sNfL and sGFAP concentrations were assessed using SimoaTM assay Neurology 2-Plex B Kit. COVID-19 patients were interviewed one-on-one by trained physicians and had to complete a list of questionnaires, including the Cognitive Failure Questionnaire (CFQ). At the first assessment (T0), sNfL and sGFAP levels were significantly higher in COVID-19 patients than in HCs (p < 0.001 for both). The eleven COVID-19 patients with cognitive impairment had significantly higher levels of sNfL and sGFAP than the others (p = 0.005 for both). At the subsequent follow-up (T1), sNfL and sGFAP levels showed a significant decrease (median sNfL 18.3 pg/mL; median sGFAP 77.2 pg/mL), although they were still higher than HCs (median sNfL 7.2 pg/mL, median sGFAP 63.5 pg/mL). Our results suggest an ongoing damage involving neurons and astrocytes after SARS-Cov2 negativization, which reduce after ten months even if still evident compared to HCs.