A neurologist’s perspective on serum neurofilament light in the memory clinic: a prospective implementation study

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Abstract

Background: Neurofilament light in serum (sNfL) is a biomarker for axonal damage with elevated levels in many neurological disorders, including neurodegenerative dementias. Since within-group variation of sNfL is large and concentrations increase with aging, sNfL’s clinical use in memory clinic practice remains to be established. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the clinical use of serum neurofilament light (sNfL), a cross-disease biomarker for axonal damage, in a tertiary memory clinic cohort. Methods: Six neurologists completed questionnaires regarding the usefulness of sNfL (n = 5–42 questionnaires/neurologist). Patients that visited the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam for the first time between May and October 2019 (n = 109) were prospectively included in this single-center implementation study. SNfL levels were analyzed on Simoa and reported together with normal values in relation to age, as part of routine diagnostic work-up and in addition to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker analysis. Results: SNfL was perceived as useful in 53% (n = 58) of the cases. SNfL was more often perceived as useful in patients < 62 years (29/48, 60%, p = 0.05) and males (41/65, 63%, p < 0.01). Availability of CSF biomarker results at time of result discussion had no influence. We observed non-significant trends for increased perceived usefulness of sNfL for patients with the diagnosis subjective cognitive decline (64%), psychiatric disorder (71%), or uncertain diagnosis (67%). SNfL was mostly helpful to neurologists in confirming or excluding neurodegeneration. Whether sNfL was regarded as useful strongly depended on which neurologist filled out the questionnaire (ranging from 0 to 73% of useful cases/neurologist). Discussion: Regardless of the availability of CSF biomarker results, sNfL was perceived as a useful tool in more than half of the evaluated cases in a tertiary memory clinic practice. Based on our results, we recommend the analysis of the biomarker sNfL to confirm or exclude neurodegeneration in patients below 62 years old and in males.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101
JournalALZHEIMERS RESEARCH & THERAPY
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Biomarkers
  • Clinical implementation
  • Dementia
  • Diagnostic work-up
  • Neurofilament light protein
  • Serum
  • Subjective Cognitive Decline

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