Background: Serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels and peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (pRNFL) are both emerging biomarkers of neuro-axonal damage in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, data on the relation between sNfL and pRNFL are scarce.
Objective: We aimed to determine the relation of sNfL levels with pRNFL thinning in a large cohort of relapsing-remitting (RR) MS patients.
Methods: We identified 80 patients from a prospective, 3-year observational study on retinal changes in RRMS with annual blood samples available. sNfL levels were measured using single-molecule array (SimoaTM) assay. Annualized loss of pRNFL (aLpRNFL) was determined by individual linear regression models. Correlations between single and repeated sNfL levels and aLpRNFL were analyzed using multivariate linear regression and mixed-effect models.
Results: After correction for sex, age, and baseline sNfL, an sNfL increase of 10 pg/mL was associated with an aLpRNFL of -0.7 µm (95% confidence interval (CI): (-1.3, -0.2), p < 0.001). Patients with ⩾2 sNfL measurements >75th percentile displayed higher aLpRNFL (2.2 µm, standard deviation (SD) 0.6) compared to patients with no sNfL measure >75th percentile (0.4 µm, SD 0.2, p < 0.001). Between 15% and 20% of the aLpRNFL variance could be predicted from sNfL levels.
Conclusion: sNfL levels contribute to the prediction of retinal thinning in patients with RRMS, strengthening its value as a biomarker of neuro-axonal damage.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; biomarker; neurofilament; optical coherence tomography; peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer.