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Longitudinal performance of plasma neurofilament light and tau in professional fighters: The Professional Fighters Brain Health Study

Bernick, C; Zetterberg, H; Shan, G; Banks, S; Blennow, K; (2018) Longitudinal performance of plasma neurofilament light and tau in professional fighters: The Professional Fighters Brain Health Study. Journal of Neurotrauma , 35 (20) pp. 2351-2356. 10.1089/neu.2017.5553. Green open access

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Abstract

The objective of this study is to evaluate longitudinal change in plasma neurofilament light (NF-L) and tau levels in relationship to clinical and radiological measures in professional fighters. Participants (active and retired professional fighters and control group) underwent annual blood sampling, 3 Tesla MRI brain imaging, computerized cognitive testing, and assessment of exposure to head trauma. Plasma tau and NF-L concentrations were measured using Simoa assays. Multiple linear regression models were used to compare the difference across groups in regard to baseline measurements, while mixed linear models was used for the longitudinal data with multiple measurements for each participant. Plasma samples were available on 471 participants. Baseline NF-L measures differed across groups (F_3,393=6.99, p=0.0001), with the active boxers having the highest levels. Higher NF-L levels at baseline were correlated with lower baseline MRI regional volumes and lower cognitive scores. The number of sparring rounds completed by the active fighters was correlated with NF-L (95% CI 0.0116-0.4053, p=0.0381), but not tau, levels. Among 126 subjects having multiple yearly samples, there was a significant difference in average yearly percentage change in tau across groups (F_3,83=3.87, p=0.0121).). We conclude that plasma NF-L and tau behave differently in a group of active and retired fighters; NF-L better reflects acute exposure whereas the role of plasma tau levels in signifying chronic change in brain structure over time requires further study.

Type: Article
Title: Longitudinal performance of plasma neurofilament light and tau in professional fighters: The Professional Fighters Brain Health Study
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1089/neu.2017.5553
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1089/neu.2017.5553
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: mild traumatic brain injury, tau, neurofilament light
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neurodegenerative Diseases
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10051450
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