Publications & Posters

Neurofilament light chain as a potential biomarker for monitoring neurodegeneration in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy

Nature Communications | March 22, 2021

Weinhofer I, Rommer P, Zierfuss B, Altmann P, Foiani M, Heslegrave A, Zetterberg H, Gleiss A, Musolino PL, Gong Y, Forss-Petter S, Berger T, Eichler F, Aubourg P, Köhler W and Berger J.

Nat Commun 12, 1816 (2021)



X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), the most frequent monogenetic disorder of brain white matter, is highly variable, ranging from slowly progressive adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN) to life-threatening inflammatory brain demyelination (CALD). In this study involving 94 X-ALD patients and 55 controls, we tested whether plasma/serum neurofilament light chain protein (NfL) constitutes an early distinguishing biomarker. In AMN, we found moderately elevated NfL with increased levels reflecting higher grading of myelopathy-related disability. Intriguingly, NfL was a significant predictor to discriminate non-converting AMN from cohorts later developing CALD. In CALD, markedly amplified NfL levels reflected brain lesion severity. In rare cases, atypically low NfL revealed a previously unrecognized smoldering CALD disease course with slowly progressive myelin destruction. Upon halt of brain demyelination by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, NfL gradually normalized. Together, our study reveals that blood NfL reflects inflammatory activity and progression in CALD patients, thus constituting a potential surrogate biomarker that may facilitate clinical decisions and therapeutic development.