New neurofilament light study

“Neurofilament light (NfL) in serum as a prognostic biomarker for brain damage and later neurodevelopment in infants with birth asphyxia” is a study in which we investigate neurofilament light (NfL) as a marker for brain damage and how it can be used in assessing prognosis for future neurodevelopment after asphyxia.

A previous smaller pilot study has shown that levels of NfL in blood are higher in children who meet criteria for hypothermia treatment after asphyxia than in newborns without signs of neurological involvement. Higher levels of NfL after asphyxia are associated both with abnormalities in the electric activity of the brain, assessed with electroencephalography (EEG), and in the brain structure, visualized with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Abnormalities in EEG and MRI are in turn markers for poorer long-term prognosis after asphyxia. Other smaller studies have shown that high NfL levels after asphyxia are associated with future neurodevelopmental impairment.

Umeå University Hospital in collaboration with Uppsala and Gothenburg, aim to recruit a total of 50 children who are treated for hypothermia after asphyxia – and the first patient has now been enrolled in the study!

NfL will be checked on days 3, 4 and 5. The study will use data from developmental assessments within the follow-up program to investigate whether NfL levels in the first days of life can be used to assess risk of future neurodevelopmental impairment after asphyxia.

“We hope that NfL will become another tool to assess the severity of brain damage and the risk of future neurodevelopmental impairment after perinatal asphyxia. Better prognostic tools can help us improve care, both in the neonatal ward and after discharge” says Sara Olivecrona, assistant physician (neonatology) and PhD student who heads up the study together with Prof Magnus Domellöf.

Sara Olivecrona