/ Research, Studies

Study increases precision of assessment of nerve damage in children (Kuhle Lab)


International research collaboration defines age-specific reference range for blood neurofilament light chain in pediatric health

The Blood Neurofilament Light Chain (NfL) is an innovative biomarker that specifically indicates neuroaxonal health. However, its clinical application has been constrained due to the lack of established reference ranges for children and adolescents. Accurate monitoring of neuroaxonal injury in neurologic and systemic diseases is of pivotal importance at population and individual patient levels. In the paediatric population, tools capturing neuroaxonal injury with high specificity would substantially facilitate early and accurate detection of conditions associated with short- and long-term neurological disabilities with considerable socioeconomic impact. This may as well accelerate clinical trials evaluating the expanding library of targeted causal and disease-modifying treatments.

The Study

Led by Jens Kuhle of the University Hospital of Basel and Sven Wellmann of the University Hospital of Regensburg and, an international team comprising top-tier institutes from Switzerland, Germany, and the United States conducted comprehensive analyses of NfL concentrations in more than 2,500 healthy children and adolescents. This ground-breaking study has been published in the esteemed journal, The Lancet Neurology.

The study authored by A Abdelhak, F Petermeier and P Benkert et al., provides essential insights for the correct interpretation of NfL concentrations in the pediatric population, emphasizing its unique, age-related dynamics. These findings are particularly distinct from previous descriptions by the same group for the adult population.

This milestone in research significantly enhances the precision of pediatric health assessments and diagnoses, thereby contributing to the evolution of global children's healthcare. The established reference dataset provides healthcare providers with a definitive standard for comparison, enabling more accurate interpretation of NfL levels in children's blood tests.

In turn, this facilitates more precise diagnoses, optimizes monitoring of disease progression, and enables a more individualized approach to treatment. With this key reference range, our ability to understand and monitor children's neuroaxonal health is significantly enhanced.

Original Publication: The Lancet Neurology
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(23)00210-7 

Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Jens Kuhle
Kuhle Lab
Head Multiple Sclerosis Centre and Neuroimmunology Unit
Departments of Head, Spine and Neuromedicine, Biomedicine and Clinical Research
Mail: jens.kuhle@clutterusb.ch