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A study finds that blood tests taken the day of a traumatic brain injury can predict which patients are likely to die or survive with severe disability, allowing clinicians to make decisions earlier on possible treatment of traumatic brain injury.
Researchers from Michigan Medicine, the University of California San
Francisco, and the University of Pennsylvania analyzed day-of-injury
blood tests of nearly 1,700 patients with traumatic brain
injury. Results published in The Lancet Neurology reveal that higher values of two protein biomarkers, GFAP and UCH-L1, are associated with death and severe injury.
This is the first study to examine the association between biomarker levels of these two proteins and all-cause mortality following traumatic brain injury, says first author Frederick Korley MD PhD, associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.
“Early and accurate prediction of traumatic brain injury outcomes will help clinicians gauge how severe a brain injury is and inform how best to counsel family members about care for their loved ones with brain injury and what to expect with regards to their recovery,” Korley said. “It will also help researchers more precisely target promising TBI therapeutics to the right TBI patients.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the use of GFAP and UCH-L1 in 2018 to help clinicians decide whether to order CT scans for mild traumatic brain injury.
Researchers measured the proteins using two devices from Abbott Laboratories, the i-STAT Alinity, and the ARCHITECT. Results were compared to evaluations made 6 months after injury using the Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended, a system that grades the functional status of patients with traumatic brain injury.
Investigators found that compared to those with GFAP values in the bottom 20th percentile, those with GFAP values in the top 20th percentile had a 23 times higher risk of death during the subsequent 6 months. Similarly, compared to those with UCH-L1 values in the bottom 20th percentile, those with UCH-L1 values in the top 20th percentile had a 63 times higher risk of death during the subsequent 6 months.
“Modern trauma care can result in good outcomes in what we had once believed were nonsurvivable injuries,” said co-senior author Geoffrey Manley MD PhD, professor and vice chair of neurosurgery at UCSF. “These blood tests are both diagnostic and prognostic, as well as easy to administer, safe and inexpensive.”
While the method is promising for determining poor outcomes in moderate and severe traumatic brain injury, researchers say more must be done to examine its role in mild cases.
“As a next step, the TRACK-TBI team is planning a clinical trial that will examine the efficacy of promising therapeutic agents that may help traumatic brain injury patients recover quickly,” Korley said. “As part of this clinical trial, these biomarkers will be used as an objective method for selecting the right patients to enroll in this trial. We will also use these biomarkers to monitor individual patient response to these promising therapeutics.”
Source: News Release
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan
August 19, 2022