Gaetani L, Blennow K, Calabresi P, Di Filippo M, Parnetti L and Zetterberg H.
J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 9. pii: jnnp-2018-320106
In the management of neurological diseases, the identification and quantification of axonal damage could allow for the improvement of diagnostic accuracy and prognostic assessment. Neurofilament light chain (NfL) is a neuronal cytoplasmic protein highly expressed in large calibre myelinated axons. Its levels increase in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood proportionally to the degree of axonal damage in a variety of neurological disorders, including inflammatory, neurodegenerative, traumatic and cerebrovascular diseases. New immunoassays able to detect biomarkers at ultralow levels have allowed for the measurement of NfL in blood, thus making it possible to easily and repeatedly measure NfL for monitoring diseases' courses. Evidence that both CSF and blood NfL may serve as diagnostic, prognostic and monitoring biomarkers in neurological diseases is progressively increasing, and NfL is one of the most promising biomarkers to be used in clinical and research setting in the next future. Here we review the most important results on CSF and blood NfL and we discuss its potential applications and future directions.