The neurotrophic protein S100B: value as a marker of brain damage and possible therapeutic implications

Prog Brain Res. 2007;161:317-25. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(06)61022-4.


We provide a critical analysis of the value of S100B as a marker of brain damage and possible therapeutic implications. The early assessment of the injury severity and the consequent prognosis are of major concern for physicians treating patients suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI). A reliable indicator to accurately determine the extent of the brain damage has to meet certain requirements: (i) to originate in the central nervous system (CNS) with no contribution from extracerebral sources; (ii) a passive release from damaged neurons and/or glial cells without any stimulated active release; (iii) a lack of specific effects on neurons and/or glial cells interfering with the initial injury; (iv) an unlimited passage through the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The measurement of putative biochemical markers, such as the S100B protein, has been proposed in this role. Over the past decade, numerous studies have reported a positive correlation of S100B serum levels with a poor outcome following TBI. However, some studies raise doubt whether the serum measurement of S100B is a valid biochemical marker of brain damage. We summarize the specific properties of S100B and analyze whether they support or counteract the necessary requirements to designate this protein as an indicator of brain damage. Finally, we report recent experimental findings suggesting a possible therapeutic potential of S100B.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein beta Subunit
  • S100 Proteins / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein beta Subunit
  • S100 Proteins
  • S100B protein, human