Two serum proteins hold promise for becoming important biomarkers of trauma-related brain damage, according to new study findings published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

The researchers measured levels of ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in 20 rats that did and did not experience traumatic brain injury (TBI). UCH-L1 is a protein specifically present in neurons, and GFAP is a protein expressed by astrocytes in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Measurements were taken two days before injury and at three, six, and 24 hours after TBI.

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Study results showed significant differences in the levels of UCH-L1 and GFAP in the TBI vs. non-TBI rats at different time points. The link between the presence of brain damage on histological evaluation and increased protein levels makes these proteins potential biomarkers in diagnosis and prognosis of brain injury after a TBI.

Lead author Xian-jian Huang and coauthors suggest that future studies should be performed to examine temporal profiles of these biomarkers following mild and severe cases of TBI.

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