Biomarker Identified for Cerebral Small Vessel Disease Burden, Progression

Headache; Vascular system of brain
Serum neurofilament light chain levels show potential in predicting the burden and progression of cerebral small vessel disease.
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BOSTON — New results suggest that serum levels of neurofilament light chain (NFL) may predict the burden and progression of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD).

The cross-sectional study was presented at the 2017 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting, held April 22-28 in Boston, Massachusetts.

For the study, Marco Düring, MD, of the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research in Munich, Germany, and colleagues enrolled 51 patients with cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy, a hereditary form of SVD.

The researchers used 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the following measures: white matter hyperintensity volume, lacune volume, whole brain volume, and mean diffusivity from diffusion tensor imaging. In addition, researchers measured serum NFL with ELISA and assessed clinical characterization with neuropsychological testing, disability with the modified Rankin scale, and dependence with the Barthel index.

According to the results, there was a significant correlation between SVD imaging markers and serum NFL levels, with the strongest correlation found with mean diffusivity (coefficient of determination [R2]=0.527; P =1.01e-09). Further, serum NFL levels were significantly linked to processing speed performance (R2=0.291; P =2.62e-05); however, when imaging markers were included in the model, the association was not independent.

In other data, significant and independent associations were observed between serum NFL levels and disability (P =2.17e-06) and dependence (P =.00148).

“Serum NFL levels were strongly related to [MRI]-imaging markers as well as clinical and cognitive symptoms of SVD,” Dr Düring and colleagues wrote. “For disability and dependence, there was an added value of serum NFL levels beyond imaging markers. Potentially, serum NFL may serve as a marker of disease burden and progression in SVD.”

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Düring M, Tiedt S, Baykara E, et al. Neurofilament light chain as a serum marker for cerebral small vessel disease. Presented at: 2017 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting. April 22-28, 2017; Boston, MA. Abstract 096.