Faculty Articles

Neurofilament Light (NFL) in Division II Female Soccer Players: A Potential Biomarker for Brain Trauma

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Exercise Physiology Online








Neurofilament light chain protein (NFL) has previously been shown to be a blood-based biomarker for sports-related concussion. Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to assess NFL concentrations in a cohort of Division II female soccer players versus a group of highly trained female controls that did not participate in a contact sport. Eight Division II soccer players (mean [+ or -] SD: age 22 [+ or -] 6 yrs; body mass 65.4 [+ or -] 12.5 kg; fat-free mass 44.0 [+ or -] 6.0 kg; fat mass 18.7 [+ or -] 8.7 kg; percent body fat 27.6 [+ or -] 7.7%) and 17 active female controls (age 25 [+ or -] 8 yrs; body mass 61.9 [+ or -] 5.4 kg; fat-free mass 44.1 [+ or -] 3.9 kg; fat mass 15.3 [+ or -] 3.5 kg; percent body fat 24.7 [+ or -] 4.4%) volunteered for this cross-sectional study. Body composition was assessed via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) (Model: Hologic Horizon W, Danbury CT USA). Blood samples were collected and ascertained for plasma NFL concentrations. There were no differences in the physical characteristics between the soccer players and active controls. Plasma NFL concentrations were significantly greater (P=0.0234) in the soccer players vs. the active controls (soccer 12.8 [+ or -] 9.1 pg*[dL.sup.-1]; active controls 5.7 [+ or -] 5.5 pg*[dL.sup.-1]). Thus, plasma NFL may be a potential biomarker for brain injury in female soccer players.

Peer Reviewed