A nerve cell protein found in the blood shows potential as a biomarker of neuroinflammation and future neurodegeneration in the early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS), a study reports.
The protein, called serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL), is a known marker of injury to axons (nerve fibers).
These findings were reported in the study “Serum neurofilament light chain reflects inflammation-driven neurodegeneration and predicts delayed brain volume loss in early stage of multiple sclerosis,” published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.
sNfL levels have been suggested as a potential MS biomarker, and studies have shown a strong correlation between its levels and both lesion burden and brain volume loss.
However, studies into the use of sNfL as a biomarker for disease activity and neurodegeneration in MS over the long term are lacking.
To assess this use of sNfL, an international team of researchers compared blood levels of this protein to brain imaging markers and other clinical measures in 172 patients (mean age, 29) in the early stages of MS.
Patients were clinically examined every three months over the course of three years (36 months), and underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans every year.
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