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Serum neurofilament light and white matter characteristics in the general population: a longitudinal analysis.

Authors
  • Hermesdorf, Marco1
  • Wulms, Niklas2
  • Maceski, Aleksandra3
  • Leppert, David3
  • Benkert, Pascal4
  • Wiendl, Heinz5
  • Kuhle, Jens3
  • Berger, Klaus2
  • 1 Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. [email protected]. , (Germany)
  • 2 Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 3 Multiple Sclerosis Centre, Neurology, Departments of Head, Spine and Neuromedicine, Biomedicine and Clinical Research, University Hospital Basel and University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 4 Clinical Trial Unit, Department of Clinical Research, University Hospital Basel and University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 5 Department of Neurology With Institute of Translational Neurology, University Hospital Münster, Münster, Germany. , (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
GeroScience
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
Volume
46
Issue
1
Pages
463–472
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11357-023-00846-x
PMID: 37285009
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Neurofilament light polypeptide (NfL) is a component of the neuronal cytoskeleton and particularly abundant in large-caliber axons. When axonal injury occurs, NfL is released and reaches the cerebrospinal fluid and the blood. Associations between NfL and white matter alterations have previously been observed in studies based on patients with neurological diseases. The current study aimed to explore the relationship between serum NfL (sNfL) and white matter characteristics in a population-based sample. The cross-sectional associations between sNfL as dependent variable, fractional anisotropy (FA), and white matter lesion (WML) volume were analyzed with linear regression models in 307 community-dwelling adults aged between 35 and 65 years. These analyses were repeated with additional adjustment for the potential confounders age, sex, and body mass index (BMI). Longitudinal associations over a mean follow-up of 5.39 years were analyzed with linear mixed models. The unadjusted cross-sectional models yielded significant associations between sNfL, WML volume, and FA, respectively. However, after the adjustment for confounders, these associations did not reach significance. In the longitudinal analyses, the findings corroborated the baseline findings showing no significant associations between sNfL and white matter macrostructure and microstructure beyond the effects of age. In synopsis with previous studies in patients with acute neurological diseases showing a significant association of sNfL with white matter changes beyond the effects of age, the present results based on a sample from the general population suggest the perspective that changes in sNfL reflect age-related effects that also manifest in altered white matter macrostructure and microstructure. © 2023. The Author(s).

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