A Narrative Review of Existing and Developing Biomarkers in Acute Traumatic Brain Injury for Potential Military Deployed Use

Veronica I. Kocik, Bradley A. Dengler, Julie A. Rizzo, Margaret Ma Moran, Adam M. Willis, Michael D. April, Steven G. Schauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in both adult civilian and military populations. Currently, diagnostic and prognostic methods are limited to imaging and clinical findings. Biomarker measurements offer a potential method to assess head injuries and help predict outcomes, which has a potential benefit to the military, particularly in the deployed setting where imaging modalities are limited. We determine how biomarkers such as ubiquitin C-Terminal hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), S100B, neurofilament light chain (NFL), and tau proteins can offer important information to guide the diagnosis, acute management, and prognosis of TBI, specifically in military personnel. Materials and Methods: We performed a narrative review of peer-reviewed literature using online databases of Google Scholar and PubMed. We included articles published between 1988 and 2022. Results: We screened a total of 73 sources finding a total of 39 original research studies that met inclusion for this review. We found five studies that focused on GFAP, four studies that focused on UCH-L1, eight studies that focused on tau proteins, six studies that focused on NFL, and eight studies that focused on S100B. The remainder of the studies included more than one of the biomarkers of interest. Conclusions: TBI occurs frequently in the military and civilian settings with limited methods to diagnose and prognosticate outcomes. We highlighted several promising biomarkers for these purposes including S100B, UCH-L1, NFL, GFAP, and tau proteins. S100B and UCH-L1 appear to have the strongest data to date, but further research is necessary. The robust data that explain the optimal timing and, more importantly, trending of these biomarker measurements are necessary before widespread application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1374-e1380
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 1 May 2024
Externally publishedYes


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