More than 1.5 million children and adults suffer concussions each year in the United States, and hundreds of thousands of military personal endure these mild traumatic brain injuries worldwide. There is a critical need for tests that are fast, simple, and reliable to help predict who may experience long-term effects from concussions. Robert Siman, from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (Pennsylvania, USA), and colleagues have identified a new blood biomarker that can accurately predict which concussion victims went on to have white matter tract structural damage and persistent cognitive dysfunction following a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Specifically, blood levels of a protein called calpain-cleaved [alpha]II-spectrin N-terminal fragment (SNTF) were found to be twice as high in a subset of patients following a traumatic injury. The blood test given on the day of the mild traumatic brain injury showed 100% sensitivity to predict concussions leading to persisting cognitive problems, and 75% specificity to correctly rule out those without functionally harmful concussions. Investigators are hopeful that, if validated in larger studies, a blood test measuring levels of SNTF could be helpful in diagnosing and predicting risk of long term consequences of concussion.
Robert Siman, Nicholas Giovannone, Gerri Hanten, Elisabeth Wilde, Stephen McCauley, Jill Hunter, Xiaoqi Li, Harvey S Levin, Douglas Smith. “Evidence That the Blood Biomarker SNTF Predicts Brain Imaging Changes and Persistent Cognitive Dysfunction in Mild TBI Patients.” Frontiers in Neurology, 18 Nov. 2013.
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