We aimed to assess serum neurofilament light chain (sNfL) levels in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to investigate whether they are related to the severity of disease.
The cohorts consisted of 166 children aged 3-8 (83 children diagnosed with ASD and 83 children with typically-developing). sNfL were analyzed using Single Molecule Array (Simoa) technology. ASD symptom severity was assessed according to the Chinese version of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score.
The mean age of those included ASD was 5.1 years (standard deviations [S.D.]: 1.7) and 78.3% were boys. The mean (SD) sNfL concentrations were significantly (P < 0.001) higher in ASD than in TP children (10.2[5.0] pg/ml and 7.1[3.2]pg/ml). For each 1 pg/ml increase of sNfL, the risk of ASD would increase by 19% (with the OR of 1.19 [95% CI 1.10-1.29], P < 0.001) and 11% (with the OR of 1.11 [1.03-1.23], P < 0.001), respectively. sNfL concentrations in children with severe ASD were higher than in those children with mild-to-moderate ASD (12.4[5.1] pg/ml vs. 8.3[4.2]pg/ml; P < 0.001). Among ASD cases, each 1 pg/ml increase of sNfL is associated with 20% higher unadjusted or 11% higher adjusted odds, respectively, of severe (vs. mild-to-moderate) ASD.
The data showed that sNfL was elevated in ASD and related to symptom severity, suggesting that sNfL may play a role in ASD progression.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.