Publications & Posters

Serum NFL levels predict progression of motor impairment and reduction in putamen dopamine transporter binding ratios in de novo Parkinson’s disease: An 8-year longitudinal study

Parkinsonism & Related Disorders | February 16, 2021

Ye R, Locascio JJ, Goodheart AE, Quan M, Zhang B and Gomperts SN

Parkinsonism & Related Disorders. 2021;85:11-16



Neurofilament light chain (NFL) level in biofluids is a sensitive measure of axonal damage and a promising biomarker in neurodegenerative diseases. In Parkinson’s disease (PD), NFL can distinguish PD from other parkinsonian disorders, and NFL concentration is associated with disease severity, risk of progression, and survival. To determine whether serum NFL at baseline in de novo PD predicts motor decline, differentially impacts specific motor features, predicts cognitive decline, and predicts loss of dopamine terminals, here we evaluated 376 de novo PD patients from the PPMI database and analyzed the effect of baseline serum NFL levels on progression over eight years of motor impairment measured with the UPDRS, cognitive function measured with the MoCA, and putamen dopamine transporter (DAT) binding ratio measured with DaTscan. In longitudinal mixed effects models that controlled for age, gender, disease duration, and levodopa equivalent drug dose, higher levels of serum NFL at baseline were associated with greater increases of UPDRS-III and total UPDRS scores, with greater worsening of postural instability and gait disorder (PIGD) scores but not tremor scores over time. In contrast, baseline serum NFL was not associated with significant progression of MoCA scores in this de novo PD cohort. Higher baseline serum NFL was associated with greater reduction of putamen DAT binding ratio over time. Together, these findings show that baseline serum NFL levels predict the rate of motor decline, the accumulation of PIGD clinical features, and the progression of dopamine transporter loss in the early stage of PD.