First of all, what is NfL? It is a protein called neurofilament light chain. According to a recent study, the increased levels of NfL can accurately indicate the presence of underlying neurodegeneration in people with brain health issues. Though it is not specific for any neuridegenerative disease (think of Parkinson’s, ALS or different types of dementia), it could serve as a quick screening tool to identify whether some brain issues such as problems with memory, attention, thinking or mental problems are a result of neurodegeneration.
So, how does it work exactly? Many neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by a damage to the nerve fiber which results in the release of NfL. The study showed that concentrations of NfL in the blood were higher across the investigated neurodegenerative diseases compared to those with no brain issues.
Using NfL the researchers were able to predict with 90% of accuracy (!) neurodegeneration in people over 65 years old and with 100% accuracy(!) in detecting ALS and Down syndrome dementia. Moreover, based on the NfL information the researchers could distinguish people with depression from people with neurodegenerative disorders that are typical for the early stages of certain diseases, such as frontotemporal dementia.
Unlike the protein tau, which is specific for Alzheimer’s disease, NfL can be detected in blood already at low levels using ultrasensitive tests. That is why it can be used for early diagnosis but also for monitoring a response to treatment and disease progression in a save, non-invasive way.
Curious? HERE is the source