(HealthDay News) — Ice hockey players with sports-related concussion have elevations in the axonal injury biomarker total tau and the astroglial injury biomarker S-100 calcium-binding protein B, according to a study published online March 13 in JAMA Neurology.
Pashtun Shahim, MD, from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Mölndal, Sweden, and colleagues conducted a prospective study involving 288 professional ice hockey players from 12 teams. Forty-seven players underwent blood sampling before the start of the season. Of the 35 players who had a concussion from September 13, 2012–January 31, 2013, 28 underwent repeat blood sampling. The correlation between concussion and levels of blood biochemical markers of injury to the central nervous system was assessed.
The researchers found that the levels of total tau were increased in concussed players compared with preseason values (median, 10.0 versus 4.5 pg/mL; P<0.001). Players with sports-related concussion also had increased levels of S-100 calcium-binding protein B compared with preseason values (median, 0.075 versus 0.045 µg/L; P #60; 0.001). Immediately after a concussion, the total tau and S-100 calcium-binding protein B concentrations were highest, and they decreased during rehabilitation. The levels of neuron-specific enolase did not change significantly from preseason to postconcussion (mean, 6.5 versus 6.1 µg/L; P=0.10).
“Sports-related concussion in professional ice hockey players is associated with acute axonal and astroglial injury,” the authors write. “This can be monitored using blood biomarkers, which may be developed into clinical tools to guide sport physicians in the medical counseling of athletes in return-to-play decisions.”
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry and are listed as inventors on a U.S. patent application for plasma tau as a brain injury marker.