Publications & Posters

Plasma Neurofilament Light As A Potential Biomarker Of Neurodegeneration In Alzheimer’s Disease


Lewczuk P, Ermann N, Andreasson U, Schultheis C, Podhorna J, Spitzer P, Maler JM, Kornhuber J, Blennow K and Zetterberg H.

Alzheimers Res Ther. 2018;10:71




A growing body of evidence suggests that the plasma concentration of the neurofilament light chain (NfL) might be considered a plasma biomarker for the screening of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).


With a single molecule array method (Simoa, Quanterix), plasma NfL concentrations were measured in 99 subjects with AD at the stage of mild cognitive impairment (MCI-AD; n = 25) or at the stage of early dementia (ADD; n = 33), and in nondemented controls (n = 41); in all patients, the clinical diagnoses were in accordance with the results of the four core cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers (amyloid β (Aβ)1–42, Aβ42/40, Tau, and pTau181), interpreted according to the Erlangen Score algorithm. The influence of preanalytical storage procedures on the NfL in plasma was tested on samples exposed to six different conditions.


NfL concentrations significantly increased in the samples exposed to more than one freezing/thawing cycle, and in those stored for 5 days at room temperature or at 4 °C. Compared with the control group of nondemented subjects (22.0 ± 12.4 pg/mL), the unadjusted plasma NfL concentration was highly significantly higher in the MCI-AD group (38.1 ± 15.9 pg/mL, p < 0.005) and even further elevated in the ADD group (49.1 ± 28.4 pg/mL; p < 0.001). A significant association between NfL and age (ρ = 0.65, p < 0.001) was observed; after correcting for age, the difference in NfL concentrations between AD and controls remained significant (p = 0.044). At the cutoff value of 25.7 pg/mL, unconditional sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were 0.84, 0.78, and 0.82, respectively. Unadjusted correlation between plasma NfL and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) across all patients was moderate but significant (r = −0.49, p < 0.001). We observed an overall significant correlation between plasma NfL and the CSF biomarkers, but this correlation was not observed within the diagnostic groups.


This study confirms increased concentrations of plasma NfL in patients with Alzheimer’s disease compared with nondemented controls.