Publications & Posters

Serum neurofilament light protein correlates with unfavorable clinical outcomes in hospitalized patients with COVID-19

Science Translational Medicine | June 15, 2021

Prudencio M, Erben Y, Marquez CP, Jansen-West KR, Franco-Mesa C, Heckman MG, White LJ, Dunmore JA, Cook CN, Lilley MT, Song Y, Harlow CF, Oskarsson B, Nicholson KA, Wszolek ZK, Hickson LJ, O’Horo JC, Hoyne JB, Gendron TF, Meschia JF and Petrucelli L

Science translational medicine. 2021

DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abi7643


Brain imaging studies of patients with COVID-19 show evidence of macro- and micro-hemorrhagic lesions, multifocal white matter hyperintensities, and lesions consistent with posterior reversible leukoencephalopathy. Imaging studies, however, are subject to selection bias and prospective studies are challenging to scale. Here, we evaluated whether serum neurofilament light chain (NFL), a neuroaxonal injury marker, could predict the extent of neuronal damage in a cohort of 142 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. NFL was elevated in the serum of patients with COVID-19 compared to healthy controls, including those without overt neurological manifestations. Higher NFL serum concentrations were associated with worse clinical outcomes. In one hundred hospitalized patients with COVID-19 treated with remdesivir, a trend toward lower NFL serum concentrations was observed. These data suggest that patients with COVID-19 may experience neuroaxonal injury and may be at risk for long-term neurological sequelae. Neuroaxonal injury should be considered as an outcome in acute pharmacotherapeutic trials for COVID-19.