Circulating neurofilament is linked with morbid obesity, renal function, and brain density

Eleni Rebelos*, Eero Rissanen, Marco Bucci, Olli Jääskeläinen, Miikka Juhani Honka, Lauri Nummenmaa, Diego Moriconi, Sanna Laurila, Paulina Salminen, Sanna Kaisa Herukka, Tarun Singhal, Pirjo Nuutila

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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Neurofilament light chain (NfL) is a novel biomarker reflecting neuroaxonal damage and associates with brain atrophy, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is a marker of astrocytic activation, associated with several neurodegenerative diseases. Since obesity is associated with increased risk for several neurodegenerative disorders, we hypothesized that circulating NfL and GFAP levels could reflect neuronal damage in obese patients. 28 morbidly obese and 18 lean subjects were studied with voxel based morphometry (VBM) MRI to assess gray and white matter densities. Serum NfL and GFAP levels were determined with single-molecule array. Obese subjects were re-studied 6 months after bariatric surgery. Morbidly obese subjects had lower absolute concentrations of circulating NfL and GFAP compared to lean individuals. Following bariatric surgery-induced weight loss, both these levels increased. Both at baseline and after weight loss, circulating NfL and GFAP values correlated inversely with eGFR. Cross-sectionally, circulating NfL levels correlated inversely with gray matter (GM) density, and this association remained significant also when accounting for age and total eGFR. GFAP values did not correlate with GM density. Our data suggest that when determining circulating NfL and GFAP levels, eGFR should also be measured since renal function can affect these measurements. Despite the potential confounding effect of renal function on NfL measurement, NfL correlated inversely with gray matter density in this group of subjects with no identified neurological disorders, suggesting that circulating NfL level may be a feasible biomarker of cerebral function even in apparently neurologically healthy subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7841
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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