Cerebrospinal Fluid Neurofilament Light Predicts Risk of Dementia Onset in Cognitively Healthy Individuals and Rate of Cognitive Decline in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Prospective Longitudinal Study

Kunal Dhiman, Victor L. Villemagne, Christopher Fowler, Pierrick Bourgeat, Qiao Xin Li, Steven Collins, Ashley I. Bush, Christopher C. Rowe, Colin L. Masters, David Ames, Kaj Blennow, Henrik Zetterberg, Ralph N. Martins, Veer Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Biomarkers that are indicative of early biochemical aberrations are needed to predict the risk of dementia onset and progression in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We assessed the utility of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) neurofilament light (NfL) chain for screening preclinical AD, predicting dementia onset among cognitively healthy (CH) individuals, and the rate of cognitive decline amongst individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Methods: Neurofilament light levels were measured in CSF samples of participants (CH, n = 154 and MCI, n = 32) from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle study of ageing (AIBL). Cases of preclinical AD were identified using biomarker-guided classification (CH, amyloid-b [Ab]+, phosphorylated-tau [P-tau]+ and total-tau [T-tau]±; A+T+/N±). The prediction of dementia onset (questionable dementia) among CH participants was assessed as the risk of conversion from Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR = 0] to CDR ≥ 0.5 over 6 years. Mixed linear models were used to assess the utility of baseline CSF NfL levels for predicting the rate of cognitive decline among participants with MCI over 4.5 years. Results: Neurofilament light levels were significantly higher in preclinical AD participants (CH, A+T+/N±) as compared to A-T-N-(p < 0.001). Baseline levels of CSF NfL were higher in CH participants who converted to CDR ≥ 0.5 over 6 years (p = 0.045) and the risk of conversion to CDR ≥ 0.5 was predicted (hazard ratio [HR] 1.60, CI 1.03–2.48, p = 0.038). CH participants with CSF NfL > cut-off were at a higher risk of developing dementia (HR 4.77, CI 1.31–17.29, p = 0.018). Participants with MCI and with higher baseline levels of CSF NfL (>median) had a higher rate of decline in cognition over 4.5 years. Conclusion: An assessment of CSF NfL levels can help to predict dementia onset among CH vulnerable individuals and cognitive decline among those with MCI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1045
JournalBiomedicines
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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