An update on diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for traumatic brain injury

Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2018 Feb;18(2):165-180. doi: 10.1080/14737159.2018.1428089. Epub 2018 Jan 23.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major worldwide neurological disorder of epidemic proportions. To date, there are still no FDA-approved therapies to treat any forms of TBI. Encouragingly, there are emerging data showing that biofluid-based TBI biomarker tests have the potential to diagnose the presence of TBI of different severities including concussion, and to predict outcome. Areas covered: The authors provide an update on the current knowledge of TBI biomarkers, including protein biomarkers for neuronal cell body injury (UCH-L1, NSE), astroglial injury (GFAP, S100B), neuronal cell death (αII-spectrin breakdown products), axonal injury (NF proteins), white matter injury (MBP), post-injury neurodegeneration (total Tau and phospho-Tau), post-injury autoimmune response (brain antigen-targeting autoantibodies), and other emerging non-protein biomarkers. The authors discuss biomarker evidence in TBI diagnosis, outcome prognosis and possible identification of post-TBI neurodegernative diseases (e.g. chronic traumatic encephalopathy and Alzheimer's disease), and as theranostic tools in pre-clinical and clinical settings. Expert commentary: A spectrum of biomarkers is now at or near the stage of formal clinical validation of their diagnostic and prognostic utilities in the management of TBI of varied severities including concussions. TBI biomarkers could serve as a theranostic tool in facilitating drug development and treatment monitoring.

Keywords: Biomarkers; diagnostics; neurotrauma; theranostics; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / drug therapy
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / metabolism*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / mortality
  • Humans
  • Liquid Biopsy
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Biomarkers