The cholesterol autoxidation products, 7-ketocholesterol and 7β-hydroxycholesterol are associated with serum neurofilaments in multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2021 May:50:102864. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2021.102864. Epub 2021 Feb 26.


Background: Serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) is an established marker of neuroaxonal injury in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Objectives: To investigate if oxysterols produced from non-enzymatic and enzymatic cholesterol oxidation are differentially associated with sNfL measurements in MS.

Methods: This longitudinal study included 62 relapsing-remitting (RR-MS) and 36 progressive MS (PMS) patients with baseline and 5-year follow-up measures of serum levels of 6 oxysterols, sNfL and lipids. The oxysterols, 24-hydroxycholesterol (24HC), 25HC, 27HC, 7αHC, 7βHC and 7-ketocholesterol (7KC), were measured using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. sNfL was measured using single molecular array assay. Serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels were obtained from a lipid profile.

Results: The enzymatically produced oxysterols 24HC, 25HC, 27HC and 7αHC were not associated with sNfL. However, baseline levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced oxysterols, 7KC (p = 0.032) and 7βHC (p = 0.0025), were positively associated with sNfL levels at follow-up. Follow-up 7KC (p = 0.038) levels were also associated with follow-up sNfL levels. The associations of 7KC or 7βHC with sNfL remained significant after adjusting for LDL-C or HDL-C.

Conclusions: 7KC and 7βHC, produced by ROS-mediated cholesterol oxidation are associated with neuroaxonal injury as assessed by sNfL in MS.

Keywords: 7-ketocholesterol; 7β-hydroxycholesterol; Apolipoprotein E; Cholesterol oxidation; Multiple sclerosis; Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hydroxycholesterols
  • Intermediate Filaments
  • Ketocholesterols
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Multiple Sclerosis*


  • Hydroxycholesterols
  • Ketocholesterols
  • cholest-5-en-3 beta,7 alpha-diol
  • 7-ketocholesterol