Point-of-care diagnostics: a blood biomarker to diagnose mild traumatic brain injuries



Annually, millions of individuals experience a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) through falls, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and many other causes. While brain imaging techniques like CT scans and MRIs can be used to detect mild TBI, due to the time and expense these scans involve and the frequency of these injuries, the availability of a blood-based test that can detect milder forms of brain injury would allow equally accurate, less expensive, and faster treatment for these patients.


IRP researchers, led by Jessica Gill, Ph.D., R.N., measured small amounts of a group of proteins in the blood of healthy individuals and patients who had been diagnosed with mild TBIs using CT scans and MRIs. The researchers found that the amount of a protein called glial fibrillary acidic protein, or GFAP, was consistently higher in patients with mild TBIs compared to healthy individuals.


This study showed, for the first time, that levels of GFAP in the blood could be used as a biomarker for detecting mild TBIs. This finding could lead to the development of a much-needed blood test to improve the ability to quickly diagnose and treat mild TBIs as an alternative to, or in combination with, brain imaging.


Gill J, Latour L, Diaz-Arrastia R, Motamedi V, Turtzo C, Shahim P, Mondello S, DeVoto C, Veras E, Hanlon D, Song L, Jeromin A. (2018). Glial fibrillary acidic protein elevations relate to neuroimaging abnormalities after mild TBI. Neurology. Oct 9;91(15):e1385-e1389.

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This page was last updated on Friday, June 9, 2023