Combination of serum markers with optical coherence tomography angiography for evaluating neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders and multiple sclerosis

Chunxin Liu, Wei Xiong Zhou, Xiaobo Sun, Xiayin Zhang, Hui Xiao, Hui Yang, Haotian Lin, Yaxin Lu, Zifeng Liu, Wei Qiu, Allan G. Kermode, Xiaoyan Yang, Yuge Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) and multiple sclerosis (MS), autoimmune inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, affect the optic nerve and brain. A lumbar puncture to obtain biomarkers is highly invasive. Serum biomarkers and optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) are more accessible and less expensive than magnetic resonance imaging and provide reliable, reproducible measures of neuroaxonal damage. This study investigated the association between serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL), serum glial fibrillary acidic protein (sGFAP), and OCTA metrics. Serum sNfL and sGFAP levels, OCTA values, and clinical characteristics were compared among 91 patients with NMOSD, 81 patients with MS, and 34 healthy controls (HCs) at baseline and 1-year follow-up. Results: sNfL and sGFAP levels were higher while the sGFAP/sNfL quotients were significantly lower in NMOSD and MS patients than those in HCs. At baseline, the average thicknesses of the peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer (pRNFL) and macular ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (mGC-IPL) were significantly smaller in NMOSD and MS patients than those in HCs (pRNFL: MS 92.0 [80.2; 101] μm, NMOSD 80.0 [59.0; 95.8] μm, vs HC 99.0 [92.0; 104] μm, p < 0.001; mGC-IPL: MS 74.5 [64.2; 81.0] μm, NMOSD 68.0 [56.0; 81.0] μm, vs HC 83.5 [78.0; 88.0] μm, p < 0.001). The vessel density (VD) and perfusion density (PD) were increased in MS patients without optic neuritis compared to HCs (VD: MS 16.7 [15.6; 17.9] HC 15.3 [13.4; 16.9], p = 0.008; PD: MS 0.41 [0.38; 0.43], HC 0.37 [0.32; 0.41], p = 0.017). In NMOSD patients without optic neuritis, sNfL was significantly associated with PD at baseline (r = 0.329, q = 0.041). The baseline and follow-up values of the sNfL level and average pRNFL and mGC-IPL thicknesses in MS patients showed significant differences. NMOSD patients showed significant differences between baseline and follow-up sNfL and sGFAP levels but not OCTA metrics. Conclusion: Changes in retinal microvasculature might occur earlier than those in retinal structure and may therefore serve as a promising diagnostic marker for early NMOSD. The combination of serum markers and OCTA metrics could be used to evaluate and differentiate between MS and NMOSD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105478
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


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