Serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) in the blood — a proposed biomarker for multiple sclerosis (MS) — is linked with worse neurologic function at levels above a certain threshold, according to data from a large, real-world study.
Kathryn Fitzgerald, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, presented the data today on the first day of the 35th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS). The ECTRIMS conference is being held Sept. 11-13, in Stockholm, Sweden.
The presentation, titled “Serum neurofilament light chain is associated with MS outcomes and comorbidity in a large population of people with multiple sclerosis,” was part of the Young Scientific Investigators’ Session 1 on biomarkers.
Neurofilaments are nerve cell-specific components that can be measured in different body compartments, including the blood, where its accumulation is a sign of neuron degeneration and damage. Levels of sNfL above a certain threshold have been proposed as a potential biomarker for MS.
“NfL is a marker of neuronal injury,” Fitzgerald said, adding that its levels are “elevated in many neurological disorders.”
“In MS, serum NfL is emerging as a strong candidate biomarker that correlates with disease severity,” showing “potential to be used for disease monitoring and risk stratification,” she added.
However, to be used as a predictive marker, further research is needed, testing sNfL’s diagnostic potential in large, heterogeneous MS populations with diverse demographics and comorbidities. Comorbidity refers to the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine quantified the levels of sNfL in blood samples from 1,969 people with MS enrolled in the MS Partners Advancing Technology and Health Solutions (MS PATHS) program. A large network of 10 healthcare institutions in the U.S. and Europe, MS PATHS has a “standardized collection of patient information (including demographic, lifestyle, clinical, radiographic), and biosamples,” Fitzgerald said.
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