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ImportancePeripheral neuropathies are common conditions and can result in numbness, paresthesia, motor deficits, and pain. There is increasing evidence for the use of biomarkers as clinical indicators of the presence, severity, and prognosis of nerve lesions; however, biomarker identification has largely been focused on disorders of the central nervous system, and less is known about their role in the peripheral nervous system.ObjectiveTo assess blood-based biomarker concentrations associated with nerve involvement in patients with peripheral neuropathy compared with control participants.Data SourcesOvid, MEDLINE, Embase, and CINAHL were searched from inception to September 23, 2021.Study SelectionObservational studies reporting on blood biomarkers in patients diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy were included. This review was preregistered on PROSPERO and followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) reporting guideline. Data were abstracted by 1 investigator and independently reviewed by a second.Data Extraction and SynthesisData were meta-analyzed when at least 2 studies reported the same biomarker with comparable methodology. Fixed-effects models were used when only 2 studies were included; random-effects models were used when more than 2 studies were included.Main Outcomes and MeasuresThe outcome of interest was concentration of biomarkers.ResultsThis review included 36 studies reporting on 4414 participants, including 2113 control participants and 2301 patients with peripheral neuropathy with 13 distinct peripheral neuropathy diagnoses. Diabetic neuropathy was the most common neuropathy diagnosis (13 studies), followed by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (6 studies) and Guillain-Barre syndrome (6 studies). Overall, 16 different blood-based biomarkers associated with nerve involvement were evaluated. The most used were neurofilament light chain, S100B, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and neuron-specific enolase. Patients with peripheral neuropathy demonstrated significantly higher levels of neurofilament light chain compared with controls (standardized mean difference [SMD], 0.93 [95% CI, 0.82 to 1.05]; P < .001). There were no significant differences in levels of S100B (SMD, 1.10 [95% CI, −3.08 to 5.28]; P = .38), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (SMD, −0.52 [95% CI, −2.23 to 1.19]; P = .40), or neuron-specific enolase (SMD, −0.00 [95% CI, −1.99 to 1.98]; P = .10) in patients with peripheral neuropathy compared with control participants.Conclusions and RelevanceThe findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis support the use of neurofilament light chain as a blood-based measure associated with the presence of neuronal injury in patients with peripheral neuropathy.

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Network Open


American Medical Association (AMA)

Publication Date





e2248593 - e2248593