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Increased plasma neurofilament light chain concentration correlates with severity of post-mortem neurofibrillary tangle pathology and neurodegeneration.

Journal article
Authors Nicholas Ashton
Antoine Leuzy
Yau Mun Lim
Claire Troakes
Tibor Hortobágyi
Kina Höglund
Dag Aarsland
Simon Lovestone
Michael Schöll
Kaj Blennow
Henrik Zetterberg
Abdul Hye
Published in Acta neuropathologica communications
Volume 7
Issue 1
Pages 5
ISSN 2051-5960
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 5
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-018-0649-...
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...
Subject categories Neurosciences

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is pathologically characterized by the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques, neurofibrillary tangles and widespread neuronal loss in the brain. In recent years, blood biomarkers have emerged as a realistic prospect to highlight accumulating pathology for secondary prevention trials. 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 (n = 12) and AD participants (n = 57) were quantified by the Simoa platform. On reaching post-mortem, neuropathological assessment was performed on all participants, with additional frozen and paraffin-embedded tissue acquired from 26 participants for further biochemical (Aβ1-42, Aβ1-40, tau) and histological (NfL) evaluation. Plasma NfL concentrations were significantly increased in AD and correlated with cognitive decline, independent of age. Retrospective stratification based on Braak staging revealed that baseline plasma NfL concentrations were associated with higher neurofibrillary tangle pathology at post-mortem. Longitudinal increases in plasma NfL were observed in all Braak groupings; a significant negative association, however, was found between plasma NfL at time point 1 and both its rate of change and annual percentage increase. Immunohistochemical evaluation of NfL in the medial temporal gyrus (MTG) demonstrated an inverse relationship between Braak stages and NfL staining. Importantly, a significant negative correlation was found between the plasma NfL measurement closest to death and the level of NfL staining in the MTG at post-mortem. For the first time, we demonstrate that plasma NfL associates with the severity of neurofibrillary tangle pathology and neurodegeneration in the post-mortem brain.

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