Fluid Biomarkers for Monitoring Structural Changes in Polyneuropathies: Their Use in Clinical Practice and Trials

Neurotherapeutics. 2021 Oct;18(4):2351-2367. doi: 10.1007/s13311-021-01136-0. Epub 2021 Oct 18.


Reliable and responsive tools for monitoring disease activity and treatment outcomes in patients with neuropathies are lacking. With the emergence of ultrasensitive blood bioassays, proteins released with nerve damage are potentially useful response biomarkers for many neurological disorders, including polyneuropathies. In this review, we provide an overview of the existing literature focusing on potential applications in polyneuropathy clinical care and trials. Whilst several promising candidates have been identified, no studies have investigated if any of these proteins can serve as response biomarkers of longitudinal disease activity, except for neurofilament light (NfL). For NfL, limited evidence exists supporting a role as a response biomarker in Guillain-Barré syndrome, vasculitic neuropathy, and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP). Most evidence exists for NfL as a response biomarker in hereditary transthyretin-related amyloidosis (hATTR). At the present time, the role of NfL is therefore limited to a supporting clinical tool or exploratory endpoint in trials. Future developments will need to focus on the discovery of additional biomarkers for anatomically specific and other forms of nerve damage using high-throughput technologies and highly sensitive analytical platforms in adequality powered studies of appropriate design. For NfL, a better understanding of cut-off values, the relation to clinical symptoms and long-term disability as well as dynamics in serum on and off treatment is needed to further expand and proceed towards implementation.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Nerve damage; Neurofilament light chain; Polyneuropathies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid Neuropathies, Familial*
  • Biomarkers
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome*
  • Humans
  • Polyneuropathies* / diagnosis
  • Polyneuropathies* / therapy
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating* / diagnosis
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating* / therapy


  • Biomarkers