Background: Cognitive impairment in people with MS (PwMS) has primarily been investigated using conventional imaging markers or fluid biomarkers of neurodegeneration separately. However, the single use of these markers do only partially explain the large heterogeneity found in PwMS. Objective: To investigate the use of multimodal (bio)markers: i.e., serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of neurofilament light chain (NfL) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and conventional imaging markers in predicting cognitive functioning in PwMS. Methods: Eighty-two PwMS (56 females, disease duration = 14 ± 9 years) underwent neuropsychological and neurological examination, structural magnetic resonance imaging, blood sampling and lumbar puncture. PwMS were classified as cognitively impaired (CI) if scoring ≥ 1.5SD below normative scores on ≥ 20% of test scores. Otherwise, PwMS were defined as cognitively preserved (CP). Association between fluid and imaging (bio)markers were investigated, as well as binary logistics regression to predict cognitive status. Finally, a multimodal marker was calculated using statistically important predictors of cognitive status. Results: Only higher NfL levels (in serum and CSF) correlated with worse processing speed (r = − 0.286, p = 0.012 and r = − 0.364, p = 0.007, respectively). sNfL added unique variance in the prediction of cognitive status on top of grey matter volume (NGMV), p = 0.002). A multimodal marker of NGMV and sNfL yielded most promising results in predicting cognitive status (sensitivity = 85%, specificity = 58%). Conclusion: Fluid and imaging (bio)markers reflect different aspects of neurodegeneration and cannot be used interchangeably as markers for cognitive functioning in PwMS. The use of a multimodal marker, i.e., the combination of grey matter volume and sNfL, seems most promising for detecting cognitive deficits in MS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3851-3861
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurology
Issue number8
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • CSF
  • Cognition
  • GFAP
  • MRI
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurofilament light
  • Serum

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