Biochemical serum markers for brain damage: a short review with emphasis on clinical utility in mild head injury

Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2003;21(3-4):171-6.


Purpose: To provide an overview of clinical research on the use of biochemical serum markers for traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the evaluation of patients with mild head injuries (MHI).

Methods: The MEDLINE database was searched for publications on biochemical serum markers of TBI until August 2002. Clinical studies addressing their use in MHI were reviewed.

Results: Desirable characteristics for biochemical serum markers of TBI were identified. Creatine kinase isoenzyme BB (CK-BB), neuron specific enolase (NSE) and S-100B protein have been most extensively studied. The sensitivity and specificity of CK-BB is inadequate for use as an indicator of traumatic brain injury. Serum levels of NSE do not correspond to the amount of TBI, probably because of its long (20 h) half-life. S-100B serum levels are correlated to both clinical measures of injury severity, neuroradiological findings and outcomes in several studies from different authors.

Conclusion: Currently, S-100B protein is the most promising marker for evaluation of TBI in patients with MHI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / blood*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia, Brain / blood*
  • Hypoxia, Brain / diagnosis


  • Biomarkers