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AAIC 2021 | The Rotterdam study: associations between plasma NfL and neurodegenerative disease

Joyce Van Arendonk, MSc, of the Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Netherlands, briefly describes the findings of an investigation into the relationship of plasma neurofilament light chain (NfL) with cognition and structural brain imaging markers in the general population without dementia. The investigation enrolled over 4000 participants from the Rotterdam study, a long-term, prospective, cohort-based study investigating factors that determine the occurrence of cardiovascular, neurological, ophthalmological, and endocrine diseases. The amount of NfL in the blood of the participants was measured and repeated cognitive tests were carried out. A group of participants also had MRI brain scans to observe differences in volumes of grey and white matter, and to detect markers of small cerebral vessel disease. It was concluded that higher levels of NfL were associated with worse cognitive performance, as well as an accelerated decline in cognition over time. Similarly, imaging markers showed an association between higher baseline plasma NfL and a greater burden of white matter pathology. This interview took place during the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), 2021.