Association of Plasma Neurofilament Light Chain with Neocortical Amyloid-β Load and Cognitive Performance in Cognitively Normal Elderly Participants

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
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Chatterjee P, Goozee K, Sohrabi HR, Shen K, Shah T, Asih PR, Dave P, ManYan C, Taddei K, Chung R1, Zetterberg H, Blennow K, Martins RN

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

DOI: 10.3233/JAD-180025

 

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND:

The disruption of neurofilament, an axonal cytoskeletal protein, in neurodegenerative conditions may result in neuronal damage and its release into the cerebrospinal fluid and blood. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), neurofilament light chain (NFL), a neurofilament subunit, is elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood.

OBJECTIVE:

Investigate the association of plasma NFL with preclinical-AD features, such as high neocortical amyloid-β load (NAL) and subjective memory complaints, and cognitive performance in cognitively normal older adults.

METHODS:

Plasma NFL concentrations were measured employing the single molecule array platform in participants from the Kerr Anglican Retirement Village Initiative in Ageing Health cohort, aged 65- 90 years. Participants underwent a battery of neuropsychological testing to evaluate cognitive performance and were categorized as low NAL (NAL-, n = 65) and high NAL (NAL+, n = 35) assessed via PET, and further stratified into subjective memory complainers (SMC; nNAL- = 51, nNAL+ = 25) and non-SMC (nNAL- = 14, nNAL+ = 10) based on the Memory Assessment Clinic- Questionnaire.

RESULTS:

Plasma NFL inversely correlated with cognitive performance. No significant difference in NFL was observed between NAL+ and NAL- participants; however, within APOEɛ4 non-carriers, higher NAL was observed in individuals with NFL concentrations within quartiles 3 and 4 (versus quartile 1). Additionally, within the NAL+ participants, SMC had a trend of higher NFL compared to non-SMC.

CONCLUSION:

Plasma NFL is inversely associated with cognitive performance in elderly individuals. While plasma NFL may not reflect NAL in individuals with normal global cognition, the current observations indicate that onset of axonal injury, reflected by increased plasma NFL, within the preclinical phase of AD may contribute to the pathogenesis of AD.