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Diagnostics Omics, Screening and monitoring, Neurology

The Eye: A Window to Neurodegeneration?

They say the eye is the window to the soul, but could it also show neurodegenerative disease? Neurofilament light chain (NfL) is being investigated as a potential biomarker of neurodegeneration after it was found in cerebrospinal fluid and blood – but researchers at Boston Medical Center have also detected the protein in the vitreous humor (1).

Collecting eye fluid samples from ophthalmic surgery patients, they investigated the presence and association of NfL with known biomarkers of neurodegenerative disease. NfL was positively associated with t-tau, amyloid beta, and select inflammatory and vascular proteins in the vitreous humor. It was not associated with existing eye conditions, suggesting it is not influenced by eye disease.

Although further research is needed to validate whether ophthalmic NfL is a definitive indicator of neurodegeneration, the authors hope their findings will help detect disease before irreversible atrophy begins.

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  1. ML Subramanian et al., Alz Res Ther, 12, 1 (2020). PMID: 32943089.

About the Author

Olivia Gaskill

During my undergraduate degree in psychology and Master’s in neuroimaging for clinical and cognitive neuroscience, I realized the tasks my classmates found tedious – writing essays, editing, proofreading – were the ones that gave me the greatest satisfaction. I quickly gathered that rambling on about science in the bar wasn’t exactly riveting for my non-scientist friends, so my thoughts turned to a career in science writing. At Texere, I get to craft science into stories, interact with international experts, and engage with readers who love science just as much as I do.

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