PLASMA AND CEREBROSPINAL FLUID NEUROFILAMENT LIGHT CONCENTRATIONS REFLECT NEURONAL DAMAGE IN SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS
Authors: K. Zervides et al.
Neurofilament light (NfL) concentrations rise in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) during neuronal damage and reach abnormal levels in various neurological disorders. To explore plasma and CSF concentrations of NfL in SLE patients and investigate the associations between NfL and nervous system involvement, 72 consecutive SLE patients and 26 healthy controls, all female, aged <55 years were studied crossectionally and underwent MRI and neurocognitive testing.
Plasma and CSF NfL concentrations correlated strongly (r=0.72, p<0.001). Plasma NfL concentrations were higher in SLE patients, both with and without neuropsychiatric involvement, compared with healthy controls. Plasma and CSF NfL concentrations did not differ between neuropsychiatric SLE and non-neuropsychiatric SLE patients. Larger white matter lesion volumes correlated with higher CSF NfL concentrations in patients aged 18-30 (rs=0.80, p=0.005). Higher plasma NfL concentrations correlated with lower simple attention scores (rs=-0.42, p=0.007), and were associated with dysfunction of psychomotor speed (p=0.012) and verbal memory (p=0.024).
Higher plasma NfL concentrations in neuropsychiatric SLE and non-neuropsychiatric SLE patients may indicate a higher degree of neuronal damage in SLE in general, particularly in the lower age group, corresponding with cognitive impairment and organ damage development. NfL may serve as an indicator of neuronal damage in SLE in further studies but may not yet be amenable to monitor individual patients in clinical practice.