Uphaus T, Bittner S, Groschel S, Steffen F, Muthuraman M, Wasser K, Weber-Kruger M, Zipp F, Wachter R and Groschel K.
Background and Purpose- Ischemic stroke causes major disability as a consequence of neuronal loss and recurrent ischemic events. Biomarkers predicting tissue damage or stroke recurrence might be useful to guide an individualized stroke therapy. NfL (neurofilament light chain) is a promising biomarker that might be used for this purpose. Methods- We used individual data of patients with an acute ischemic stroke and clinical long term follow-up. Serum NfL (sNfL) was quantified within 24 hours after admission and after 1 year and compared with other biomarkers (GDF15 [growth differentiation factor 15], S100, NT-proBNP [N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide], ANP [atrial natriuretic peptide], and FABP [fatty acid-binding protein]). The primary end point was functional outcome after 90 days and cerebrovascular events and death (combined cardiovascular end point) within 36 months of follow-up. Results- Two hundred eleven patients (mean age, 68.7 years; SD, ±12.6; 41.2% women) with median clinical severity on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score of 3 (interquartile range, 1-5) and long-term follow-up with a median of 41.8 months (interquartile range, 40.0-44.5) were prospectively included. We observed a significant correlation between sNfL and NIHSS at hospital admission (r=0.234; P<0.001). sNfL levels increased with the grade of age-related white matter changes (P<0.001) and were able to predict unfavorable clinical outcome (modified Rankin Scale score, ≥2) 90 days after stroke (odds ratio [OR], 1.562; 95% CI, 1.003-2.433; P=0.048) together with NIHSS (OR, 1.303; 95% CI, 1.164-1.458; P<0.001) and age-related white matter change rating (severe; OR, 3.326; 95% CI, 1.186-9.326; P=0.022). Similarly, sNfL was valuable for the prediction of the combined cardiovascular end point (OR, 2.002; 95% CI, 1.213-3.302; P=0.007), besides NIHSS (OR, 1.110; 95% CI, 1.000-1.232; P=0.049), diabetes mellitus (OR, 2.942; 95% CI, 1.306-6.630; P=0.005), and age-related white matter change rating (severe; OR, 4.816; 95% CI, 1.206-19.229; P=0.026) after multivariate regression analysis. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed significantly more combined cardiovascular end points (18 [14.1%] versus 38 [45.8%], log-rank test P<0.001) during long-term follow-up in patients with elevated sNfL levels. Conclusions- sNFL is a valuable biomarker for functional independence 90 days after ischemic stroke and predicts cardiovascular long-term outcome. Clinical Trial Registration- URL: http://www.isrctn.com. Unique identifier: ISRCTN 46104198.