Serum Neurofilament Light as a Biomarker of Traumatic Brain Injury in the Presence of Concomitant Peripheral Injury

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Introduction: Serum neurofilament light (NfL) is an emerging biomarker of traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, the effect of peripheral injuries such as long bone fracture and skeletal muscle injury on serum NfL levels is unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether serum NfL levels can be used as a biomarker of TBI in the presence of concomitant peripheral injuries. Methods: Rats were randomly assigned to one of four injury groups: polytrauma (muscle crush + fracture + TBI; n = 11); peripheral injuries (muscle crush + fracture + sham-TBI; n = 12); TBI-only (sham-muscle crush + sham-fracture + TBI; n = 13); and triple-sham (n = 7). At 2-days post-injury, serum levels of NfL were quantified using a Simoa HD-X Analyzer. Results: Compared to triple-sham rats, serum NfL concentrations were higher in rats with peripheral injuries-only, TBI-only, and polytrauma. When compared to peripheral injury-only rats, serum NfL levels were higher in TBI-only and polytrauma rats. No differences were found between TBI-only and polytrauma rats. Conclusion: Serum NfL levels did not differ between TBI-only and polytrauma rats, indicating that significant peripheral injuries did not affect the sensitivity and specificity of serum NfL as a biomarker of moderate TBI. However, the finding of elevated serum NfL levels in rats with peripheral injuries in the absence of a TBI suggests that the presence of such injuries may limit the utility of NfL as a biomarker of less severe TBI (eg, concussion).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
JournalBiomarker Insights
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Blood biomarker
  • bone fracture
  • extracranial injury
  • polytrauma

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