Biomarkers May Predict Unfavorable Neurological Outcome after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Lawrence M. Lewis, Linda Papa, Jeffrey J. Bazarian, Art Weber, Rob Howard, Robert D. Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to determine if initial or repeat measurements of serum concentrations of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) or ubiquitin C-Terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1) are predictive of an acute unfavorable neurological outcome in patients who present to the emergency department (ED) with brain injury and an initial Glasgow Coma Scale Score (GCS) of 14-15. This multi-center observational trial included brain-injured adults presenting to the ED, receiving a head computed tomography (CT) and venipuncture for biomarker concentration measurements within 6 h of injury. Subjects had repeat serum sampling and GCS scores every 4 h for the first 24 h, if available for assessment. We analyzed blood samples using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Wilcoxin two-sample test was used to compare initial and repeat serum concentrations for both biomarkers between CT-positive patients who did not have an acute unfavorable neurological outcome and those patients who did. A total of 145 enrolled subjects had adequate data for analysis; 69 were CT-positive, 74 were CT-negative, and 2 were CT-inconclusive. Five subjects developed an acute unfavorable neurological outcome, defined as need for intracranial pressure monitoring, craniotomy, persistent neurological deficits, or death resulting from brain injury. Initial median serum concentrations of GFAP and UCH-L1 (obtained <6 h from injury) were significantly greater in CT-positive patients who had an acute unfavorable neurological outcome than in CT-positive patients who did not (GFAP: 5237 pg/mL [IQR 4511, 8180] versus 283.5 pg/mL [IQR 107, 1123]; p = 0.026; UCH-L1: 3329 pg/mL [QR 1423, 5010] versus 679.5 pg/mL [IQR 363, 1100] p = 0.014). Repeat serum testing (6-< 12 h from injury) showed that UCH-L1 serum concentration, but not GFAP, was also significantly greater in the acute unfavorable neurological outcome group than in those without an unfavorable outcome: 1088 pg/mL versus 374 pg/mL; p = 0.041.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2624-2631
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2020


  • biomarkers
  • mild traumatic brain injury
  • neurological deterioration


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