Serum neurofilament light (NfL) outperformed tau, as well as S100B and neuron-specific enolase (NSE), as a blood-based biomarker for the detection of acute sports-related concussion(SRC) in a prospective longitudinal cohort study of professional hockey players published in Neurology.
Of the 288 hockey players who were followed, 105 sustained an SRC. Of these individuals, 87 underwent blood tests at 1, 12, 36, and 144 hours following SRC and at the return to play (RTP) time point. Serum NfL levels at 1, 12, 36, and 144 hours following SRC were associated with prolonged RTP time. Serum NfL concentrations were elevated in players with RTP >10 days vs players with RTP ≤10 days at all time points measured. Of note, serum NfL levels 1 hour following SRC could separate players with RTP >10 days from players with RTP ≤10 days (P <.0001). Plasma tau levels 1 hour after SRC were also linked to RTP, but less strongly than NfL levels. There were no such associations reported with S100B or NSE.