Background: Neurofilaments are promising biomarkers in multiple sclerosis (MS) and increased levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) indicate axonal damage or degeneration. In a previous study, neurofilament light chain (NfL) levels in CSF of relapsing remitting (RR) patients with MS were normalized by natalizumab treatment.
Aims of the study: We compared the coherence between NfL and neurofilament heavy chain (NfH(SMI) (35) ) levels in longitudinal CSF samples in a subset of these patients.
Methods: In 30 patients with RRMS, CSF was obtained prior to and following 12 months of natalizumab treatment. NfH(SMI) (35) was measured by an electrochemiluminescence-based immunoassay. NfL levels were determined previously by the UmanDiagnostics NF-light(®) assay.
Results: NfH(SMI) (35) decreased in 73.3% and NfL in 90% of the patients following natalizumab treatment (32.4 vs 27.4 pg/ml, P = 0.002 and 820 vs 375 pg/ml, P < 0.0001). Patients experiencing a relapse showed higher NfH(SMI) (35) levels compared with patients in remission (47.7 vs 27.6 pg/ml, n = 8, P = 0.001). This difference was less obvious for NfL (1055 vs 725 pg/ml, P = 0.256). In patients in remission, NfL levels were lower following natalizumab treatment (830 vs 365 pg/ml, n = 20, P = 0.0002), whereas the same comparison failed significance for NfH(SMI) (35) (28.3 vs 26.9 pg/ml, P = 0.086).
Conclusions: We confirm previous findings, indicating reduced axonal damage under natalizumab treatment by measuring NfH(SMI) (35) , using an assay with independent methodology. In comparison with NfH(SMI) (35) , NfL changes were more pronounced and the treatment effect also included patients in remission. Our results suggest that NfL is superior over NfH(SMI) (35) as therapeutic biomarker and is a promising candidate to measure neuroaxonal damage in MS treatment trials.
Keywords: cerebrospinal fluid; multiple sclerosis; natalizumab; neurofilament heavy chain; neurofilament light chain.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.