Publications & Posters

Plasma tau and neurofilament light in frontotemporal lobar degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease


Illán-Gala I, Lleo A, Karydas A, Staffaroni AM, Zetterberg H, Sivasankaran R, Grinberg LT, Spina S, Kramer J, Ramos EM, Coppola G, La Joie R, Rabinovici GD, Perry DC, Gorno-Tempini ML, Seeley W, Miller BL, Rosen HJ, Blennow K, Boxer AL and Rojas JC.

Neurology Nov 2020, 10.1212/WNL.0000000000011226

DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000011226


Objective To test the hypothesis that plasma total tau (t-tau) and neurofilament light chain (NfL) concentrations may have a differential role in the study of frontotemporal lobar degeneration syndromes (FTLD-S) and clinically-diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (AD-S), we determined their diagnostic and prognostic value in FTLD-S and AD-S and their sensitivity to pathologic diagnoses.

Methods We measured plasma t-tau and NfL with the Simoa platform in 265 participants: 167 FTLD-S, 43 AD-S, and 55 healthy controls (HC), including 82 pathology-proven cases (50 FTLD-Tau, 18 FTLD-TDP, 2 FTLD-FUS, and 12 AD) and 98 participants with amyloid PET. We compared cross-sectional and longitudinal biomarker concentrations between groups, their correlation with clinical measures of disease severity, progression and survival and cortical thickness.

Results Plasma NfL, but not plasma t-tau discriminated FTLD-S from HC and AD-S from HC. Both plasma NfL and t-tau were poor discriminators between FLTD-S and AD-S. In pathology confirmed cases, plasma NfL was higher in FTLD than AD and in FTLD-TDP compared to FTLD-Tau, after accounting for age and disease severity. Plasma NfL, but not plasma t-tau, predicted clinical decline and survival and correlated with regional cortical thickness in both FTLD-S and AD-S. The combination of plasma NfL with plasma t-tau did not outperform plasma NfL alone.

Conclusions Plasma NfL is superior to plasma t-tau for the diagnosis and prediction of clinical progression of FTLD-S and AD-S.