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Cerebrovasc Dis. 2015;40(5-6):222-7. doi: 10.1159/000440774. Epub 2015 Sep 30.

Serum Neurofilament Light Chain Levels Are Associated with Clinical Characteristics and Outcome in Patients with Cervical Artery Dissection.

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Department of Neurology and Stroke Center, University Hospital of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.



Serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels represent a promising marker of neuroaxonal injury. They are elevated in several neurological conditions, but their importance in cerebrovascular diseases remains unclear. In a proof of concept study, we compared sNfL levels with clinical characteristics and outcome in patients with cervical artery dissection (CeAD).


A total of 49 non-traumatic CeAD patients were included. sNfL levels were measured by high-sensitivity electrochemiluminescence immunoassay. Levels were compared with regard to (i) type of presenting symptoms (local symptoms only (n = 8), transient ischemic attack (TIA; n = 10) or ischemic stroke (n = 31)), (ii) stroke severity quantified by National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), (iii) time interval between onset of symptoms and blood sampling and (iv) 3-month outcome as measured by the modified Rankin Scale score. Analyses were performed using univariate and multivariate linear and ordinal regression models.


CeAD patients presenting with stroke had significantly higher sNfL levels (median 108.9 pg/ml, interquartile range (37.8-427.7)) than patients with TIA (16.4 pg/ml (8.7-36.3), p = 0.002) or local symptoms (23.4 pg/ml (17.8-30.8), p = 0.0007). Among stroke patients, sNfL levels were positively associated with both NIHSS (p = 0.0002) and time between stroke onset and serum sampling (p = 1.9 × 10-6). Higher sNfL levels were associated with unfavorable outcome at 3 months (OR 4.67, 95% CI 1.69-12.95, p = 0.003). However, this association lost significance after adjustment for NIHSS. The highest sNfL level was observed in a TIA patient who had ischemic stroke 1 day after serum sampling for sNfL measurement.


sNfL levels were increased in CeAD patients presenting with stroke, correlated with clinical severity and were influenced by the time point of blood sampling. The prognostic meaning of sNfL in CeAD deserves further testing.

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