Nicholas Ashton, researcher at Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine at University of Gothenburg and MedTech West, is first author of an article titled “Increased plasma neurofilament light chain concentration correlates with severity of post-mortem neurofibrillary tangle pathology and neurodegeneration“ published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications. The published results show for the first time that axonal injury marker, Neurofilament light (NfL), in blood associates with the severity of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in the post-mortem brain.
In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on developing a blood biomarker to predict the clinical onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or to identify the underlying pathophysiology at its earliest stage. A blood-based measure has substantial practical and economic advantages over the imaging and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers that are now form the diagnostic research criteria for AD. A blood-based marker could complement CSF and molecular imaging biomarkers as a simplified initial triage step in a multi-stage assessment for early diagnosis, secondary prevention trial participant selection or monitoring of response to intervention over time.
Neurofilament light chain (NfL), a marker of axonal degeneration, is robustly elevated in the blood of many neurological and neurodegenerative conditions, including AD. A strong relationship with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) NfL suggests that these biomarker modalities reflect the same pathological process. Yet, the connection between blood NfL and brain tissue pathology has not been directly compared. In this study, longitudinal plasma NfL from cognitively healthy controls and AD participants were quantified by an ultra-sensitive immunoassay platform. On reaching post-mortem, it was shown that plasma NfL concentrations (8 years prior to post-mortem) were associated with more severe AD pathology. Immunohistochemical evaluation of NfL in the medial temporal gyrus (MTG) demonstrated an inverse relationship between plasma NfL and brain NfL . For the first time, the researchers demonstrate that plasma NfL associates with the severity of AD pathology and neurodegeneration in the post-mortem brain.
Other authors are Antoine Leuzy, Yau Mun Lim, Claire Troakes, Tibor Hortobágyi, Kina Höglund, Dag Aarsland, Simon Lovestone, Michael Schöll, Kaj Blennow, Henrik Zetterberg and Abdul Hye.