The development of a clinically validated biomarker of acute cerebral ischemia would have the potential to facilitate the use of time-sensitive reperfusion strategies, allow for individualization of patient care by predicting relative risk of hemorrhage and volume of penumbral tissue, and add valuable prognostic information for patients presenting with acute stroke. Additionally, a stroke biomarker might benefit early stage clinical research by serving as a surrogate measure of ischemic injury. Although at present there are no clinically validated biomarkers of acute stroke, previous studies have focused on markers associated with different components of the ischemic cascade, including microglial activation, inflammation, oxidative stress, neuronal injury, hemostasis, and endothelial dysfunction. Evolving technologies have provided high throughput approaches to investigate potential gene and protein signatures, and methods to measure newly discovered markers of cell death and immune responses. Prior to defining the clinical utility of stroke biomarkers, it is critical to understand the inherent limitations of a biomarker-based approach and define its potential value for providing adjunctive diagnostic and prognostic information. The identification and validation of a clinically relevant biomarker, or panel of markers, of stroke will ultimately require incorporation of both stringent research design and assessment in the clinical context in which the marker will be used.
Copyright © 2011 American Neurological Association.