Serum neurofilament light chain predicts long-term prognosis in Guillain-Barré syndrome patients

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2020 Nov 5:jnnp-2020-323899. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2020-323899. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To study baseline serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels as a prognostic biomarker in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).

Methods: We measured NfL in serum (98 samples) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (24 samples) of patients with GBS prospectively included in the International GBS Outcome Study (IGOS) in Spain using single-molecule array (SiMoA) and compared them with 53 healthy controls (HCs). We performed multivariable regression to analyse the association between sNfL levels and functional outcome at 1 year.

Results: Patients with GBS had higher NfL levels than HC in serum (55.49 pg/mL vs 9.83 pg/mL, p<0.0001) and CSF (1308.5 pg/mL vs 440.24 pg/mL, p=0.034). Patients with preceding diarrhoea had higher sNfL than patients with respiratory symptoms or no preceding infection (134.90 pg/mL vs 47.86 pg/mL vs 38.02 pg/mL, p=0.016). sNfL levels correlated with Guillain-Barré Syndrome Disability Score and Inflammatory Rasch-built Overall Disability Scale (I-RODS) at every timepoint. Patients with pure motor variant and Miller Fisher syndrome showed higher sNfL levels than patients with sensorimotor GBS (162.18 pg/mL vs 95.50 pg/mL vs 38.02 pg/mL, p=0.025). Patients with acute motor axonal neuropathy cute motor axonal neuropathy had higher sNfL levels than other variants (190.55 pg/mL vs 46.79 pg/mL, p=0.013). sNfL returned to normal levels at 1 year. High baseline sNfL levels were associated with inability to run (OR=1.65, 95% CI 1.14 to 2.40, p=0.009) and lower I-RODS (β -2.60, 95% CI -4.66 to -0.54, p=0.014) at 1 year. Cut-off points predicting clinically relevant outcomes at 1 year with high specificity were calculated: inability to walk independently (>319 pg/mL), inability to run (>248 pg/mL) and ability to run (<34 pg/mL).

Conclusion: Baseline sNfL levels are increased in patients with GBS, are associated with disease severity and axonal variants and have an independent prognostic value in patients with GBS.