LOS ANGELES — Plasma neurofilament light (NfL) concentrations may be able to distinguish several neurodegenerative conditions, according to study results presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019, held July 14-18 in Los Angeles, California. The results indicate that NfL may be promising as a clinical tool or for use in clinical trials.

The study included plasma samples from patients with neurodegenerative conditions, including mild cognitive impairment (MCI; n=86), Alzheimer disease (AD; n=89), frontotemporal dementia (FTD; n=49), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB; n=139), Parkinson disease (PD; n=64), and primary tauopathies (n=63), as well as healthy elderly controls (n=74). The study also included patients with Down syndrome (DS; n=41), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; n=50), multiple sclerosis (MS; n=83) and clinical depression (n=52) compared with neurodegenerative conditions.

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The researchers measured plasma NfL concentrations using the SIMOA® platform at the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute in London, United Kingdom, and the Clinical Neurochemistry Laboratory at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Molndal, Sweden. The samples were randomized, blinded, and measured in duplicate.

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The highest concentrations of NfL were seen in patients with ALS (143.9 pg/mL), Down syndrome with dementia (80 pg/mL), and DLB (76.6 pg/mL). Patients with clinical depression and healthy controls had the lowest mean NfL concentrations (11 and 30 pg/mL, respectively).

Compared with controls, the researchers observed a statistically significant difference between five neurodegenerative conditions: FTD, corticobasal syndrome, Down syndrome with dementia, DLB, and ALS (P ≤.05). While NfL has been shown to be a reliable marker of axonal damage in the brain, the investigators believe “[h]ere for the first time we have shown that NfL on its own is able to distinguish several neurodegenerative conditions when compared to healthy controls.”


Hye A. Plasma neurofilament light a pan-neurodegenerative marker. Abstract presented at: The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019; July 14-18, 2019; Los Angeles, California.