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Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein and Ubiquitin C-Terminal Hydrolase-L1 Are Not Specific Biomarkers for Mild CT-Negative Traumatic Brain Injury.

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Posti, Jussi P 
Hossain, Iftakher 
Takala, Riikka SK 
Liedes, Hilkka 


Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1) have been studied as potential biomarkers of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). We report the levels of GFAP and UCH-L1 in patients with acute orthopedic injuries without central nervous system involvement, and relate them to the type of extracranial injury, head magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings, and levels of GFAP and UCH-L1 in patients with CT-negative mTBI. Serum UCH-L1 and GFAP were longitudinally measured from 73 patients with acute orthopedic injury on arrival and on days 1, 2, 3, 7 after admission, and on the follow-up visit 3-10 months after the injury. The injury types were recorded, and 71% patients underwent also head MRI. The results were compared with those found in patients with CT-negative mTBI (n = 93). The levels of GFAP were higher in patients with acute orthopedic trauma than in patients with CT-negative mTBI (p = 0.026) on arrival; however, no differences were found on the following days. The levels of UCH-L1 were not significantly different between these two groups at any measured point of time. Levels of GFAP and UCH-L1 were not able to distinguish patients with CT-negative mTBI from patients with orthopedic trauma. Patients with orthopedic trauma and high levels of UCH-L1 or GFAP values may be falsely diagnosed as having a concomitant mTBI, predisposing them to unwarranted diagnostics and unnecessary brain imaging. This casts a significant doubt on the diagnostic value of GFAP and UCH-L1 in cases with mTBI.



GFAP, TBI, UCH-L1, biomarker, orthopedic injury

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J Neurotrauma

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Mary Ann Liebert Inc
Medical Research Council (G0600986)
TCC (None)
Medical Research Council (G0600986/1)
This work was partially funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7-270259-TBIcare), personal EVO funding (JPP and RSKT), personal EVO funding and grant from Maire Taponen Foundation (JPP), Health Foundation/Academy of Medical Sciences Clinician Scientist Fellowship (VN), NIHR Research Fellowship (PJH).