A new study claims that a brain protein detected in the blood could diagnose traumatic brain injury (TBI) from the sidelines of a sporting event.
According to Jeffrey J. Bazarian, M.D., professor at the University of Rochester and colleagues, the brain protein S100B is regarded as a biomarker for TBI. The problem with using this protein however is that brain protein levels have the tendency to go up following physical exertion. The problem then becomes distinguishing between exertion and injury.
They therefore undertook a study that involved college athletes in Rochester, N.Y., and Munich, Germany. A total of 46 athletes completed preseason baseline testing for the brain protein S100B. 30 of them were then re-tested following exertion and found that their S100B levels rose on average only about 2 percent compared to baseline.
Twenty two of the 46 athletes suffered clinically confirmed concussions. Of them, 17 underwent S100B testing within 3 hours of injury. The results demonstrated their S100B levels to be an average of 81 percent higher than baseline. Bazarian et al therefore concluded a rise in S100B levels of more than 45 percent could be considered nearly diagnostic of a concussion.
Their hope is to develop a simple sideline blood test for the brain protein that can accurately distinguish between simple exertion and a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion.
Their findings have been published in the journal PLOS ONE.