The potential of neurofilaments analysis using dry-blood and plasma spots

Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 9;10(1):97. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-54310-y.


The lack of biomarkers for an early diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders (NDs) has hampered the development of therapeutics whose effect would be enhanced by a timely intervention. Neurofilaments light chain (Nf-L), an integral part of the axonal structure, has emerged as a robust fluid biomarker for fatal neurodegenerative disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). To facilitate large-scale studies into early-stage neurodegeneration, reduce costs of samples collection/processing and cold-chain storage, we describe the measurement of Nf-L in blood fractions obtained from dry blood spots (DBS) and dry plasma spots (DPS), two filter paper-based remote blood collection tools. To test the feasibility of using this approach, Nf-L analysis in DBS/DPS is compared to that in plasma obtained from the same blood sample, looking at Nf-L discriminatory power in the clinical stratification of ALS compared to healthy controls. With the best pre-analytical treatment for total protein recovery and using highly sensitive immunoassays, we report the detection of different Nf-L levels in DBS elute compared to reference plasma and DPS from the same blood samples. However, Nf-L measurement in DBS elutes provides a very good discrimination of ALS from healthy controls which is comparable to that obtained using plasma Nf-L assays. With the available immunodetection methods, we show that Nf-L measurement based on DPS microsampling is similar to that in plasma. The filter-paper biophysical characteristics and the interference of high haemoglobin concentration released by erythrocyte lysis is likely to perturb Nf-L detection in DBS elute. Further studies into DBS-based Nf-L detection and its analytical optimization are needed to make this method suitable for routine Nf-L blood analyses in neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / blood
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Blood Specimen Collection / methods*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dried Blood Spot Testing / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofilament Proteins / blood*
  • Specimen Handling / methods*


  • Biomarkers
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • neurofilament protein L