Serum biomarkers in primary mitochondrial disorders
Brain Communications| January 4, 2021
Varhaug KN, Hikmat O, Nakkestad HL, Vedeler CA and Bindoff LA
Brain Communications. 2021;3
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcaa222
The aim of this study was to explore the utility of the serum biomarkers neurofilament light chain, fibroblast growth factor 21 and growth and differentiation factor 15 in diagnosing primary mitochondrial disorders. We measured serum neurofilament light chain, fibroblast growth factor 21 and growth and differentiation factor 15 in 26 patients with a genetically proven mitochondrial disease. Fibroblast growth factor 21 and growth and differentiation factor 15 were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and neurofilament light chain with the Simoa assay. Neurofilament light chain was highest in patients with multi-systemic involvement that included the central nervous system such as those with the m.3242A>G mutation. Mean neurofilament light chain was also highest in patients with epilepsy versus those without [49.74 pg/ml versus 19.7 pg/ml (P = 0.015)], whereas fibroblast growth factor 21 and growth and differentiation factor 15 levels were highest in patients with prominent myopathy, such as those with single-mitochondrial DNA deletion. Our results suggest that the combination of neurofilament light chain, fibroblast growth factor 21 and growth and differentiation factor 15 is useful in the diagnostic evaluation of mitochondrial disease. Growth and differentiation factor 15 and fibroblast growth factor 21 identify those with muscle involvement, whereas neurofilament light chain is a clear marker for central nervous system involvement independent of underlying mitochondrial pathology. Levels of neurofilament light chain appear to correlate with the degree of ongoing damage suggesting, therefore, that monitoring neurofilament light chain levels may provide prognostic information and a way of monitoring disease activity.