Serum neurofilament light (sNfL), a marker of active neuronal damage, is elevated in people with hospitalized COVID-19, irrespective of neurological involvement. NfL was highest in patients with COVID-19 and acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis (ADEM), followed by encephalitis.
Why this matters
SARS-Cov-2 infection has been associated with nervous system involvement; however, uncertainties exist about the underlying pathogenic mechanisms.
Interestingly, studies have reported plasma markers of neuronal damage in people with severe COVID-19 but no apparent nervous system involvement.
It remains unclear whether neuronal damage only occurs in patients with COVID-19 and neurological syndromes, or whether it is a feature of COVID-19 more broadly.