Biomarkers offer the potential to supplement traditional diagnosis and classification of TBI. In a recent study published in JAMA Neurology, a research team from the US, Egypt, and Kuwait investigated the efficacy of three plasma biomarkers to accurately distinguish acute mild and chronic TBI: hypophosphorylated tau protein (P-tau); total tau (T-tau) protein; and the ratio of P-tau to T-tau. Between April 2010 and June 2012, single plasma samples were collected from 196 patients admitted to three level 1 trauma centers within 24 hours after injury. An additional 21 patients with TBI admitted to inpatient rehabilitation units within 6 months of injury were also recruited into the study.
The research team found that the plasma samples from patients with chronic TBI showed elevated P-tau levels and significantly higher P-tau to T-tau ratios than those of healthy controls. In addition, both P-tau levels and P-tau to T-tau ratios strongly discriminated patients with chronic TBI and TBI patients with poor outcomes better than measures of T-tau levels.