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Neurofilament light chain as a biomarker in neurological disorders

Journal article
Authors L. Gaetani
Kaj Blennow
P. Calabresi
M. Di Filippo
L. Parnetti
Henrik Zetterberg
Published in Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Volume 90
Issue 8
Pages 870-881
ISSN 0022-3050
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 870-881
Language en
Keywords multiple sclerosis, dementia, motor neuron disease, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury, cerebrospinal-fluid biomarkers, serum neurofilament, differential-diagnosis, multiple-sclerosis, csf, disease, protein, progression, disability, marker, Neurosciences & Neurology, Psychiatry, Surgery
Subject categories Neurosciences


In the management of neurological diseases, the identification and quantification of axonal damage could allow for the improvement of diagnostic accuracy and prognostic assessment. Neurofilament light chain (NfL) is a neuronal cytoplasmic protein highly expressed in large calibre myelinated axons. Its levels increase in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood proportionally to the degree of axonal damage in a variety of neurological disorders, including inflammatory, neurodegenerative, traumatic and cerebrovascular diseases. New immunoassays able to detect biomarkers at ultralow levels have allowed for the measurement of NfL in blood, thus making it possible to easily and repeatedly measure NfL for monitoring diseases' courses. Evidence that both CSF and blood NfL may serve as diagnostic, prognostic and monitoring biomarkers in neurological diseases is progressively increasing, and NfL is one of the most promising biomarkers to be used in clinical and research setting in the next future. Here we review the most important results on CSF and blood NfL and we discuss its potential applications and future directions.

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