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Serum neurofilament measurement improves clinical risk scores for outcome prediction after cardiac arrest: results of a prospective study

Critical Care | January 20, 2021

Hunziker S, Quinto A, Ramin-Wright M, Becker C, Beck K, Vincent A, Tisljar K, Disanto G, Benkert P, Leppert D, Pargger H, Marsch S, Raoul S, Peters N and Kuhle J

Critical care (London, England). 2021;25:32


This study was peformed using a Simoa® Homebrew assay.



A recent study found serum neurofilament light chain (NfL) levels to be strongly associated with poor neurological outcome in patients after cardiac arrest. Our aim was to confirm these findings in an independent validation study and to investigate whether NfL improves the prognostic value of two cardiac arrest-specific risk scores.


This prospective, single-center study included 164 consecutive adult after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) patients upon intensive care unit admission. We calculated two clinical risk scores (OHCA, CAHP) and measured NfL on admission within the first 24 h using the single molecule array NF-light® assay. The primary endpoint was neurological outcome at hospital discharge assessed with the cerebral performance category (CPC) score.


Poor neurological outcome (CPC > 3) was found in 60% (98/164) of patients, with 55% (91/164) dying within 30 days of hospitalization. Compared to patients with favorable outcome, NfL was 14-times higher in patients with poor neurological outcome (685 ± 1787 vs. 49 ± 111 pg/mL), with an adjusted odds ratio of 3.4 (95% CI 2.1 to 5.6, p < 0.001) and an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.82. Adding NfL to the clinical risk scores significantly improved discrimination of both the OHCA score (from AUC 0.82 to 0.89, p < 0.001) and CAHP score (from AUC 0.89 to 0.92, p < 0.05). Adding NfL to both scores also resulted in significant improvement in reclassification statistics with a Net Reclassification Index (NRI) of 0.58 (p < 0.001) for OHCA and 0.83 (p < 0.001) for CAHP.


Admission NfL was a strong outcome predictor and significantly improved two clinical risk scores regarding prognostication of neurological outcome in patients after cardiac arrest. When confirmed in future outcome studies, admission NfL should be considered as a standard laboratory measures in the evaluation of OHCA patients.