Neurofilaments are biological substances which play a major role as structural components in neurons.
In a study recently published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, the researchers focused on spinal cord injuries. When a spinal cord injury occurs, the severity of the disease is normally quantified by clinical measures that have limited sensitivity and reliability.
The aim of the researchers was to find a blood-based biomarker to help physicians quantify the degree of injury with more sensitivity and reliability.
They tried to implement a laboratory method to analyse neurofilaments in the blood of people affected by spinal cord injury as a predictor of the clinical outcome of the disease.
They found that blood neurofilament concentrations in patients with spinal cord injuries are closely correlated with acute severity and neurological outcomes.
These data provide evidence that blood neurofilaments are of prognostic value in spinal cord injury patients.
These methods could be applied in diseases that involve the spinal cord, like MS. Blood neurofilament concentrations could be used in future to quantify the severity of spinal cord lesions in MS.
Blood neurofilament levels may also qualify as drug response markers in spinal cord injury and help in tailoring treatments for individuals.