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Promising biomarkers could diagnose mild traumatic brain injury

Tuesday February 16th 2021

Specific plasma microRNAs have been found to be diagnostic biomarkers in mild traumatic brain injury, according to researchers in Finland.

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland discovered the biomarkers in an animal model and said they were used successfully to diagnose mild traumatic brain injury in a subgroup of patients.

Writing in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the team said their study follows other studies that have shown many promising biomarkers that could characterise the severity of traumatic brain injury and provide molecular-level information about the ongoing pathological changes.

Dr Noora Puhakka from the A. I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences at the University of Eastern Finland said: “We have been developing a suitable analysis and measurement method especially for miRNAs that can be found in small amounts in plasma, and this method is based on digital droplet PCR.

“Humans and animals share many identical miRNAs, and this makes them excellent candidates for translational studies, where results achieved in animal models are sought to be applied in humans. However, it has proven challenging to reproduce results from different studies and different sets of data. This is why assessing the quality of measurement methods, and reproducibility, is an extremely important part of biomarker research.”

The research team found two interesting biomarkers in the animal model, the plasma miRNAs miR-9a-3p and miR-136-3p, which were analysed in blood samples taken from patients with traumatic brain injury.

They found elevated levels of these biomarkers, which enabled them to identify some of the patients who had experienced a mild traumatic brain injury.

“Both of these miRNAs are more abundant in the brain than in other tissues, and their elevated levels in plasma could possibly be due to brain injury and the level of its seriousness,” said Dr Puhakka. “However, further research in larger patient cohorts is still needed.”

The study was conducted by Professor Asla Pitkänen's research group with Kuopio University Hospital.

Das Gupta S, Ciszek R, Heiskanen M et al. Plasma miR-9-3p and miR-136-3p as Potential Novel Diagnostic Biomarkers for Experimental and Human Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 4 February 2021

[abstract]

Tags: A&E | Brain & Neurology | Europe

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