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Neurofilament light chain: a specific serum biomarker of axonal damage severity in rat models of Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neurotoxicity

Journal article
Authors C. Meregalli
G. Fumagalli
P. Alberti
A. Canta
A. Chiorazzi
L. Monza
E. Pozzi
V. A. Carozzi
Kaj Blennow
Henrik Zetterberg
G. Cavaletti
P. Marmiroli
Published in Archives of Toxicology
Pages 6
ISSN 0340-5761
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 6
Language en
Keywords Neurofilament light chain, Simoa, Chemotherapy, Neurotoxicity, Axonal, degeneration, Neurotoxic drugs, neuronal damage, disease, blood, neuropathy, protein, Toxicology
Subject categories Neurosciences


Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neurotoxicity (CIPN) is a severe and long-lasting side effect of anticancer therapy, which can severely impair patients' quality of life. It is a sensory and length-dependent neuropathy, which predominantly affects large myelinated fibers. Easy and reliable monitoring of CIPN in patients is still an unmet clinical need. Since increasing clinical evidence supports the potential use of neurofilament light chain (NfL) as a biomarker of axonal injury, in this study we measured serum NfL levels in animals chronically treated with cisplatin (CDDP) and paclitaxel (PTX), two antineoplastic drugs with different neuronal targets. Wistar rats were treated with CDDP (2 mg/kg i.p. twice/week for 4 weeks) or PTX (10 mg/kg i.v. once/week for 4 weeks). Repeated serum NfL quantification was obtained using the Single Molecule Array (Simoa) technology. The onset and progression of peripheral neurotoxicity were evaluated through neurophysiology, morphological assessments and intraepidermal nerve fibers density quantification. Our results showed that serum NfL measurements correlated with the severity of axonal damage. In fact, both treatments induced serum NfL increase, but higher levels were evidenced in PTX-treated animals, compared with CDDP-treated rats, affected by a milder neurotoxicity. Notably, also the timing of the NfL level increase was associated with the severity of morphological and functional alterations of axonal structure. Therefore, NfL could be a useful biomarker for axonal damage in order to follow the onset and severity of axonal degeneration and possibly limit the occurrence of serious PNS disease.

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