Neurofilament light chain, a putative measure of neuronal damage, is measurable in blood and CSF and is predictive of cognitive function in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. There has been limited prior work linking neurofilament light and functional connectivity, and no prior work has investigated neurofilament light associations with functional connectivity in autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease. Here, we assessed relationships between blood neurofilament light, cognition, and functional connectivity in a cross-sectional sample of 106 autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease mutation carriers and 76 non-carriers. We employed an innovative network-level enrichment analysis approach to assess connectome-wide associations with neurofilament light. Neurofilament light was positively correlated with deterioration of functional connectivity within the default mode network and negatively correlated with connectivity between default mode network and executive control networks, including the cingulo-opercular, salience, and dorsal attention networks. Further, reduced connectivity within the default mode network and between the default mode network and executive control networks was associated with reduced cognitive function. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that neurofilament levels and functional connectivity within the default mode network and between the default mode network and the dorsal attention network explained significant variance in cognitive composite scores when controlling for age, sex, and education. A mediation analysis demonstrated that functional connectivity within the default mode network and between the default mode network and dorsal attention network partially mediated the relationship between blood neurofilament light levels and cognitive function. Our novel results indicate that blood estimates of neurofilament levels correspond to direct measurements of brain dysfunction, shedding new light on the underlying biological processes of Alzheimer’s disease. Further, we demonstrate how variation within key brain systems can partially mediate the negative effects of heightened total serum neurofilament levels, suggesting potential regions for targeted interventions. Finally, our results lend further evidence that low-cost and minimally invasive blood measurements of neurofilament may be a useful marker of brain functional connectivity and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2928-2943
Number of pages16
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • NfL
  • default mode network
  • enrichment
  • functional connectivity
  • neurodegeneration
  • resting state


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