Biomarker-based risk prediction for the onset of neuroinflammation in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy

Isabelle Weinhofer, Paulus Rommer, Andreas Gleiss, Markus Ponleitner, Bettina Zierfuss, Petra Waidhofer-Söllner, Stéphane Fourcade, Katharina Grabmeier-Pfistershammer, Marie Christine Reinert, Jens Göpfert, Anne Heine, Hemmo A.F. Yska, Carlos Casasnovas, Verónica Cantarín, Caroline G. Bergner, Eric Mallack, Sonja Forss-Petter, Patrick Aubourg, Annette Bley, Marc EngelenFlorian Eichler, Troy C. Lund, Aurora Pujol, Wolfgang Köhler, Jörn Sven Kühl, Johannes Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is highly variable, ranging from slowly progressive adrenomyeloneuropathy to severe brain demyelination and inflammation (cerebral ALD, CALD) affecting males with childhood peak onset. Risk models integrating blood-based biomarkers to indicate CALD onset, enabling timely interventions, are lacking. Therefore, we evaluated the prognostic value of blood biomarkers in addition to current neuroimaging predictors for early detection of CALD. Methods: We measured blood biomarkers in a retrospective, male CALD risk-assessment cohort consisting of 134 X-ALD patients and 66 controls and in a phenotype-blinded validation set (25 X-ALD boys, 4–13 years) using Simoa®and Luminex® technologies. Findings: Among 25 biomarkers indicating axonal damage, astrocye/microglia activation, or immune-cell recruitment, neurofilament light chain (NfL) had the highest prognostic value for early indication of childhood/adolescent CALD. A plasma NfL cut-off level of 8.33 pg/mL, determined in the assessment cohort, correctly discriminated CALD with an accuracy of 96% [95% CI: 80–100] in the validation group. Multivariable logistic regression models revealed that combining NfL with GFAP or cytokines/chemokines (IL-15, IL-12p40, CXCL8, CCL11, CCL22, and IL-4) that were significantly elevated in CALD vs healthy controls had no additional benefit for detecting neuroinflammation. Some cytokines/chemokines were elevated only in childhood/adolescent CALD and already upregulated in asymptomatic X-ALD children (IL-15, IL-12p40, and CCL7). In adults, NfL levels distinguished CALD but were lower than in childhood/adolescent CALD patients with similar (MRI) lesion severity. Blood GFAP did not differentiate CALD from non-inflammatory X-ALD. Interpretation: Biomarker-based risk prediction with a plasma NfL cut-off value of 8.33 pg/mL, determined by ROC analysis, indicates CALD onset with high sensitivity and specificity in childhood X-ALD patients. A specific pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokine profile in asymptomatic X-ALD boys may indicate a primed, immanent inflammatory state aligning with peak onset of CALD. Age-related differences in biomarker levels in adult vs childhood CALD patients warrants caution in predicting onset and progression of CALD in adults. Further evaluations are needed to assess clinical utility of the NfL cut-off for risk prognosis of CALD onset. Funding: Austrian Science Fund, European Leukodystrophy Association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104781
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Biomarker
  • Cytokines
  • GFAP
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neurofilament light chain
  • X-ALD

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Biomarker-based risk prediction for the onset of neuroinflammation in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this