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Neurology. 2017 May 9;88(19):1788-1794. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003912. Epub 2017 Apr 12.

Serum neurofilament light as a biomarker for mild traumatic brain injury in contact sports.

Author information

1
From the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology (P.S., H.Z., K.B.), Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg; Clinical Neurochemistry Laboratory (P.S., H.Z., K.B.), Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Mölndal, Sweden; Department of Molecular Neuroscience (H.Z.), UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK; and the Division of Medical Sciences (Y.T.), Department of Health Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. pashtun.shahim@neuro.gu.se.
2
From the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology (P.S., H.Z., K.B.), Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg; Clinical Neurochemistry Laboratory (P.S., H.Z., K.B.), Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Mölndal, Sweden; Department of Molecular Neuroscience (H.Z.), UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK; and the Division of Medical Sciences (Y.T.), Department of Health Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate whether the axonal protein neurofilament light (NFL) in serum is a sensitive biomarker to detect subtle brain injury or concussion in contact sports athletes.

METHODS:

Two prospective cohort studies involving (1) 14 Swedish amateur boxers who underwent fluid biomarker assessments at 7-10 days after bout and after 3 months of rest from boxing and (2) 35 Swedish professional hockey players who underwent blood biomarker assessment at 1, 12, 36, and 144 hours after concussion and when the players returned to play were performed. Fourteen healthy nonathletic controls and 12 athletic controls were also enrolled. Serum NFL was measured using ultrasensitive single molecule array technology.

RESULTS:

Serum NFL concentrations were increased in boxers 7-10 days after bout as compared to the levels after 3 months rest as well as compared with controls (p = 0.0007 and p < 0.0001, respectively). NFL decreased following 3 months of rest, but was still higher than in controls (p < 0.0001). Boxers who received many (>15) hits to the head or were groggy after bout had higher concentrations of serum NFL as compared to those who received fewer hits to the head (p = 0.0023). Serum NFL increased over time in hockey players, and the levels returned to normal at return to play. Importantly, serum NFL could separate players with rapidly resolving postconcussion symptoms (PCS) from those with prolonged PCS.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results from these 2 independent cohort studies suggest that serum NFL is a highly sensitive biomarker for concussion.

PMID:
28404801
PMCID:
PMC5419986
DOI:
10.1212/WNL.0000000000003912
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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