There is a lack of sensitive and specific biomarkers for use in progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The study aimed to assess the potential of serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels as biomarker of disability progression in patients with progressive MS.
Methods We performed a prospective observational cohort study in 51 patients with progressive MS who participated in a 2-year phase II single-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of interferon-beta. Mean (SD) follow-up duration was 13.9 (6.2) years. Levels of sNfL were measured using a single molecule array immunoassay at baseline, 1, 2 and 6 years. Univariable and multivariable analyses were carried out to evaluate associations between sNfL levels and disability progression at short term (2 years), medium term (6 years) and long term (at the time of the last follow-up).
Results A sNfL cut-off value of 10.2 pg/mL at baseline discriminated between long-term progressors and non-progressors with a 75% sensitivity and 67% specificity (adjusted OR 7.8; 95% CI 1.8 to 46.4; p=0.01). Similar performance to discriminate between long-term progressors and non-progressors was observed using age/body mass index-adjusted sNfL Z-scores derived from a normative database of healthy controls. A cut-off increase of 5.1 pg/mL in sNfL levels between baseline and 6 years also discriminated between long-term progressors and non-progressors with a 71% sensitivity and 86% specificity (adjusted OR 49.4; 95% CI 4.4 to 2×103; p=0.008).
Conclusions sNfL can be considered a prognostic biomarker of future long-term disability progression in patients with progressive MS. These data expand the little knowledge existing on the role of sNfL as long-term prognostic biomarker in patients with progressive MS.
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Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request. Anonymised data will be shared upon request from a qualified investigator.
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Contributors MC, JS-G and XM contributed to conception and design of the study. PC-M contributed to analysis of data. NF, CT, SM, DP, FXA, JR, AR and MT contributed to acquisition of data. All coauthors contributed to editing and approval of the final draft. MC accepts full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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