A neuronal blood marker is associated with mortality in old age

Stephan A Kaeser, Benoit Lehallier, Mikael Thinggaard, Lisa H Häsler, Anja Apel, Carina Bergmann, Daniela Berdnik, Bernard Jeune, Kaare Christensen, Sebastian Grönke, Linda Partridge, Tony Wyss-Coray, Jonas Mengel-From, Mathias Jucker

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Neurofilament light chain (NfL) has emerged as a promising blood biomarker for the progression of various neurological diseases. NfL is a structural protein of nerve cells, and elevated NfL levels in blood are thought to mirror damage to the nervous system. We find that plasma NfL levels increase in humans with age (n = 122; 21–107 years of age) and correlate with changes in other plasma proteins linked to neural pathways. In centenarians (n = 135), plasma NfL levels are associated with mortality equally or better than previously described multi-item scales of cognitive or physical functioning, and this observation was replicated in an independent cohort of nonagenarians (n = 180). Plasma NfL levels also increase in aging mice (n = 114; 2–30 months of age), and dietary restriction, a paradigm that extends lifespan in mice, attenuates the age-related increase in plasma NfL levels. These observations suggest a contribution of nervous system functional deterioration to late-life mortality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Aging
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)218–225
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


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