Differential levels of Neurofilament Light protein in cerebrospinal fluid in patients with a wide range of neurodegenerative disorders

Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 8;10(1):9161. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-66090-x.


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers are useful in the diagnosis and the prediction of progression of several neurodegenerative diseases. Among them, CSF neurofilament light (NfL) protein has particular interest, as its levels reflect neuroaxonal degeneration, a common feature in various neurodegenerative diseases. In the present study, we analyzed NfL levels in the CSF of 535 participants of the SPIN (Sant Pau Initiative on Neurodegeneration) cohort including cognitively normal participants, patients with Alzheimer disease (AD), Down syndrome (DS), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal syndrome (CBS). We evaluated the differences in CSF NfL accross groups and its association with other CSF biomarkers and with cognitive scales. All neurogenerative diseases showed increased levels of CSF NfL, with the highest levels in patients with ALS, FTD, CBS and PSP. Furthermore, we found an association of CSF NfL levels with cognitive impairment in patients within the AD and FTD spectrum and with AD pathology in DLB and DS patients. These results have implications for the use of NfL as a marker in neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuroaxonal Dystrophies / diagnosis
  • Neuroaxonal Dystrophies / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurofilament Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid*


  • Biomarkers
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • neurofilament protein L