Biomarkers track damage after graded injury severity in a rat model of penetrating brain injury

J. Susie Zoltewicz*, Stefania Mondello, Boxuan Yang, Kimberly J. Newsom, Firas Kobeissy, Changping Yao, Xi Chun May Lu, Jitendra R. Dave, Deborah A. Shear, Kara Schmid, Virginia Rivera, Terri Cram, Jixiang Seaney, Zhiqun Zhang, Kevin K.W. Wang, Ronald L. Hayes, Frank C. Tortella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The goal of this project was to determine whether biochemical markers of brain damage can be used to diagnose and assess the severity of injury in a rat model of penetrating ballistic-like brain injury (PBBI). To determine the relationship between injury magnitude and biomarker levels, rats underwent three discrete PBBI severity levels defined by the magnitude of the ballistic component of the injury, calibrated to equal 5%, 10%, or 12.5% of total rat brain volume. Cortex, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and blood were collected at multiple time points. Levels of three biomarkers (αII-spectrin breakdown product [SBDP150], glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP], and ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 [UCH-L1]), were measured using quantitative immunoblotting and/or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. In injured cortex, SBDP150 and GFAP levels were increased significantly over controls. Cortical SBDP150 was elevated at 1 day but not 7 days, and GFAP at 7 days but not 1 day. At their respective time points, mean levels of SBDP150 and GFAP biomarkers in the cortex rose stepwise as injury magnitude increased. In the CSF, increasing severity of PBBI was associated with increasing concentrations of both neuronal and glial biomarkers acutely at 1 day after injury, but no trends were observed at 7 days. In plasma, SBDP150 was elevated at 5 min after 10% PBBI and at 6 h after 12.5% PBBI. UCH-L1 levels in plasma were elevated acutely at 5 min post-injury reflecting injury severity and rapidly decreased within 2 h. Overall, our results support the conclusion that biomarkers are effective indicators of brain damage after PBBI and may also aid in the assessment of injury magnitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1169
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • GFAP
  • SBDP150
  • UCH-L1
  • biomarker
  • penetrating brain injury


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