Serum neurofilament light chain concentration predicts disease worsening in multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler. 2022 Jun 4;13524585221097296. doi: 10.1177/13524585221097296. Online ahead of print.


Background: Serum neurofilament light (sNfL) chain is a promising biomarker reflecting neuro-axonal injury in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the ability of sNfL to predict outcomes in real-world MS cohorts requires further validation.

Objective: The aim of the study is to investigate the associations of sNfL concentration, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and retinal optical coherence tomography (OCT) markers with disease worsening in a longitudinal European multicentre MS cohort.

Methods: MS patients (n = 309) were prospectively enrolled at four centres and re-examined after 2 years (n = 226). NfL concentration was measured by single molecule array assay in serum. The patients' phenotypes were thoroughly characterized with clinical examination, retinal OCT and MRI brain scans. The primary outcome was disease worsening at median 2-year follow-up.

Results: Patients with high sNfL concentrations (⩾8 pg/mL) at baseline had increased risk of disease worsening at median 2-year follow-up (odds ratio (95% confidence interval) = 2.8 (1.5-5.3), p = 0.001). We found no significant associations of MRI or OCT measures at baseline with risk of disease worsening.

Conclusion: Serum NfL concentration was the only factor associated with disease worsening, indicating that sNfL is a useful biomarker in MS that might be relevant in a clinical setting.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; biomarker; magnetic resonance imaging; optical coherence tomography; prognosis; serum neurofilament light chain.