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PO.1.13 Plasma and cerebrospinal fluid neurofilament light concentrations reflect neuronal damage in systemic lupus erythematosus
  1. KA Zervides1,
  2. S Janelidze2,
  3. J Nystedt3,
  4. B Gullstrand1,
  5. P Nilsson3,
  6. PC Sundgren4,
  7. AA Bengtsson1,
  8. O Hansson2 and
  9. A Jönsen1
  1. 1Department of Clinical Sciences, Rheumatology, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital ~ Lund ~ Sweden
  2. 2Clinical Memory Research Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University ~ Malmö ~ Sweden
  3. 3Department of Clinical Sciences, Neurology, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital ~ Lund ~ Sweden
  4. 4Department of Clinical Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital ~ Lund ~ Sweden


Purpose Neuronal damage in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is common, but the extent and mechanisms are unclear. Neurofilament light (NfL) concentrations rise in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) during neuronal damage in various neurological disorders. In this cross-sectional study, plasma and CSF concentrations of NfL were explored as a marker of neuronal damage in SLE.

Methods 72 consecutive SLE out-patients and 26 healthy controls, all female, aged <55 years, underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neurocognitive testing. NfL concentrations in plasma from all individuals and in CSF from 32 patients were measured with single-molecule array technology. Patients were assessed by a rheumatologist and neurologist to define neuropsychiatric involvement (NPSLE) according to three attribution models: SLICC A, SLICC B and ACR.

Results Plasma and CSF NfL concentrations correlated strongly (r=0.72, p<0.001). Both NPSLE and non-NPSLE patients in all attribution models had higher plasma NfL concentrations compared with healthy controls (log-NfL, pg/ml, mean (SD); healthy controls (0.71 (0.17)); SLICC A model: NPSLE (0.87 (0.13), p=0.003), non-NPSLE (0.83 (0.18), p=0.005); SLICC B model: NPSLE (0.87 (0.14), p=0.001), non-NPSLE (0.83 (0.18), p=0.008); ACR model: NPSLE (0.86 (0.16), p<0.001), non-NPSLE (0.81 (0.17), p=0.044), see Figure 1). Plasma and CSF NfL concentrations did not differ between NPSLE and non-NPSLE patients. Higher plasma NfL concentrations correlated with larger CSF volumes on MRI (r=0.34, p=0.005), and was associated with poorer cognitive performance in the domains of simple attention, psychomotor speed and verbal memory. SLICC/ACR-Damage Index ≥1 was independently associated with higher plasma NfL concentrations (β=0.074, 95% CI 0.004–0.14, p=0.038). Higher plasma creatinine concentrations, anti-dsDNA-positivity, low complement C3 levels, or a history of renal involvement were associated with higher plasma NfL concentrations (β=0.003, 95% CI 0.001–0.006, p=0.009; β=0.072, 95% CI 0.005–0.14, p=0.031; β=0.077, 95% CI 0.009–0.15, p=0.027; β=0.069, 95% CI 0.001–0.14, p=0.047, respectively).

Conclusions Higher plasma NfL concentrations in NPSLE and non-NPSLE patients may indicate a higher degree of neuronal damage in SLE in general, corresponding to cognitive impairment and organ damage development. Furthermore, our results may indicate a higher degree of neuronal breakdown in patients with active SLE, also without overt clinical symptoms. NfL may serve as an indicator of neuronal damage in SLE in further studies.

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