The objective of this study is to test the feasibility of using serum neurofilament light chain (NfL) as a disease biomarker in Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN) since this easy accessible biological test may have a large impact on clinical management and safety of cancer patients.
We performed this preclinical study using a well-characterized rat model based on repeated administration of the cytostatic drug vincristine (VCR, 0.2 mg/kg intravenously via the tail vein once/week for 4 times). Serial NfL serum concentration was measured using the in-house Simoa NfL assay and peripheral neuropathy onset was measured by sensory and motor nerve conduction studies.
Serum NfL measure in untreated and VCR-treated rats demonstrated a steady, and significant increase during the course of VCR administration, with a final 4-fold increase with respect to controls (p < .001) when sign of axonopathy and loss of intraepidermal nerve fibers were clearly evident and verified by behavioral, neurophysiological and pathological examination.
This simple monitoring approach based on serum NfL concentration measures may be easily translated to clinical practice and should be considered as a putative marker of CIPN severity in a typical oncology outpatient setting. Further studies are needed to validate its utility in cancer patients treated with different neurotoxic drugs.