Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In recent years, researchers have attempted to identity certain clinical factors that might predict patient outcomes after TBI, including disabilities such as as physical and neurological deficits. However, clinical predictors may not always be sufficient, so some researchers are investigating the role of biomarkers, or biological substances that may indicate the presence of disease or injury, as a predictor of patient outcomes.
A biomarker called copeptin has drawn recent attention as a prognostic tool for TBI. Copeptin is an amino acid released by the body in response to certain diseases and injuries, and some studies suggest that levels of copeptin in the bloodstream can predict patient outcomes in the post-injury recovery period.
Recently, a group of researchers in Italy examined the relationship between copeptin levels and mild TBI. They analyzed the hospital records of 105 adults who were admitted to the emergency with mild TBI, examining the patients’ brain imaging scans as well as patients’ copeptin levels. They found that patients who sustained mild TBI did have significantly higher copeptin levels than a non-injured control group, suggesting that copeptin does play a role in TBI. However, increased copeptin levels were not associated with the presence of brain lesions, and patients with higher copeptin levels were not more or less likely to experience negative outcomes in the month following injury.
Copeptin and other biomarkers remain important prognostic tools for predicting patient outcomes after disease and injury. Although increased copeptin levels may not predict short-term outcomes as effectively as other measures, such as the Glasgow Coma Scale, further research on the role of biomarkers may significantly improve clinicians’ ability to predict post-injury obstacles and to form appropriate treatment plans for patients with TBI.
Castello LM, Salmi L, Zanotti I, et al. The increase in copeptin levels in mild head trauma does not predict the severity and the outcome of brain damage. Biomarkers in Medicine. (April 2018).