Recently, a research journal entitled “Neurofilaments as Biomarkers in Neurological Disorders” published in Nature Reviews Neurology earlier this year by Michael Khalil et al. investigated neurofilaments and their role in identifying MS in patients. Included in this study was the purpose of neurofilaments, how neurofilament light chains can be used as a biomarker to identify disease progression in MS patients, and how the techniques can be used to help in the identification of effective treatments for MS and other neurological disorders.
To begin, neurofilaments, a part of the neurons, are thought to be important components in providing radial growth and overall stability in axons throughout the body. Therefore, when MS causes disease progression and axonal injuries, these neurofilaments are released into the body. Certain techniques using four different generations of immunoassays (a biochemical test that can help identify these neurofilaments) can identify the levels of these neurofilaments in both the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and the blood. If this is done, the concentration of these neurofilaments can be an important indicator in determining the level of disease progression for MS. The first two generations of immunoassays work for identification in CSF, although identification in blood is only reliable in the third and fourth generation immunoassays identified in the study (these immunoassays are more sensitive).
This process is an important landmark in not only identifying how severe a patient has MS, but it can also be an effective tool in future MS research. This process can be used in future clinical trials to help determine how well a MS treatment works by comparing the number of neurofilaments that are in the blood before and after treatment. This process is also much more reliable than using MRI scans which are only reliable in showing damage in white matter, while MS causes damage in both white matter and gray matter. While the first and second generation immunoassays have limitations based on low sensitivity (and therefore rely on CSF sampling), the newer third and fourth generation immunoassays have opened up opportunities in future testing and research. While not perfect, these immunoassays could help find a future treatment, if not a future cure, for MS.
As said before, the information in the above paragraphs was located in an article published in Nature Reviews Neurology entitled “Neurofilaments as Biomarkers in Neurological Disorders” by Michael Khalil et al.. The link to the article is listed below.