The Neurologist’s Troponin?

What is Neurofilament Light Chain (NfL)? NfL is a biomarker that is found specifically in neurons. In mature myelinated axons, neurofilaments are the single most abundant protein. When there is neuro-axonal injury, NfL is released into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and then into the blood. The concentration in the blood reflects the rate of neurofilament release from neurons. Testing for levels of NfL may provide valuable data in clinical trials for neurological disorders. It has the potential to help guide treatment decisions, used as a screening tool, monitor disease progression, or assess treatment response. NfL is being looked at for multiple neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Migraine, and Concussion. NfL testing was previously done testing the CSF and could only be found in highly specialized laboratories but is slowly becoming more accessible to your healthcare providers through serum/plasma testing.

Thebault, Simon, Ronald A. Booth, and Mark S. Freedman. “Blood neurofilament light chain: the neurologist’s troponin?.” Biomedicines 8.11 (2020): 523.

Yuan, A.; Rao, M.V.; Veeranna; Nixon, R.A. Neurofilaments and neurofilament proteins in health and disease. Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol. 2017, 9, a018309.

By: Andrew Chan, PA