Neurofilament light chain (NfL) is a new and easily accessible blood test that could predict disease progressions of several neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease, according to a recent press release by LabCorp.

The principle behind the test is that Neurofilament release is a known consequence of neuronal destruction. These neurofilaments can be found in both cerebrospinal liquids and in peripheral blood. Although there are several neurofilament types, NfL has been the focus of most studies. However, until now, there were no reliable methods to detect it in common blood samples, mainly because of a lack of sensitivity.

Because neuronal damage is a common anatomopathological characteristic shared by many neurological conditions, ranging from MS to a simple concussion, Nfl cannot provide any specific etiological diagnosis.


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NfL can predict disease progression in patients with neurodegenerative conditions such as MS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Spinocerebellar Ataxias. According to the developers, Nfl could be a valuable biomarker to assess response to MS treatment and predict possible clinical outcomes.

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In patients with neurodegenerative dementia and subjective memory deterioration, NfL can help physicians predict disease progression. According to several studies, NfL levels are directly related to disease progression in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Several authors suggest that NfL, together with clinical evaluation, can be useful in concussion diagnosis in athletes. Its use as a biomarking could even aid sports physicians in return to play decisions, according to some studies.

Because NfL can be detected in a standard blood sample, the test can be performed in the hospital, doctor offices, and private homes. Because NfL levels can be elevated in healthy older patients, results must be interpreted with the aid of reference levels by age.

“Serial use of NfL testing can help doctors to follow trends that indicate the effectiveness of medicines or therapies, or whether there is continued injury or disease progression,” Dr. Joseph Volpe, neurology business segment and discipline director at LabCorp, said.

Reference

Labcorp launches new test to identify and confirm neurodegenerative disease. News release. LabCorp; July 13, 2022.