Neurofilament light chain: A prognostic biomarker in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Lu C-H., Macdonald-Wallis C., Gray E., Pearce N., Petzold A., Norgren N., Giovannoni G., Fratta P., Sidle K., Fish M., Orrell R., Howard R., Talbot K., Greensmith L., Kuhle J., Turner MR., Malaspina A.
OBJECTIVE: To test blood and CSF neurofilament light chain (NfL) levels in relation to disease progression and survival in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). METHODS: Using an electrochemiluminescence immunoassay, NfL levels were measured in samples from 2 cohorts of patients with sporadic ALS and healthy controls, recruited in London (ALS/control, plasma: n = 103/42) and Oxford (ALS/control, serum: n = 64/36; paired CSF: n = 38/20). NfL levels in patients were measured at regular intervals for up to 3 years. Change in ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised score was used to assess disease progression. Survival was evaluated using Cox regression and Kaplan-Meier analysis. RESULTS: CSF, serum, and plasma NfL discriminated patients with ALS from healthy controls with high sensitivity (97%, 89%, 90%, respectively) and specificity (95%, 75%, 71%, respectively). CSF NfL was highly correlated with serum levels (r = 0.78, p < 0.0001). Blood NfL levels were approximately 4 times as high in patients with ALS compared with controls in both cohorts, and maintained a relatively constant expression during follow-up. Blood NfL levels at recruitment were strong, independent predictors of survival. The highest tertile of blood NfL at baseline had a mortality hazard ratio of 3.91 (95% confidence interval 1.98-7.94, p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Blood-derived NfL level is an easily accessible biomarker with prognostic value in ALS. The individually relatively stable levels longitudinally offer potential for NfL as a pharmacodynamic biomarker in future therapeutic trials. CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE: This report provides Class III evidence that the NfL electrochemiluminescence immunoassay accurately distinguishes patients with sporadic ALS from healthy controls.