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Serum metabolites associate with CT findings following TBI

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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  • Alex Mountfort Dickens
  • Jussi P Posti
  • Riikka Sk Takala
  • Henna Maria Ala-Seppälä
  • Ismo Mattila
  • Jonathan Coles Coles
  • Janek Frantzén
  • Peter John Hutchinson
  • Ari J Katila
  • Anna Kyllönen
  • Henna-Riikka Maanpää
  • Virginia Newcombe
  • Joanne Outtrim
  • Jussi Tallus
  • Keri Carpenter
  • David Menon
  • Tuulia Hyotylainen
  • Olli Tenovuo
  • Matej Oresic
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There is a need to rapidly detect patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who require head computed tomography (CT). Given the energy crisis in the brain following TBI, we hypothesized that serum metabolomics would be a useful tool for developing a set of biomarkers to determine the need for CT and to distinguish between different types of injuries observed. Logistic regression models using metabolite data from the discovery cohort (n=144, Turku, Finland) were used to distinguish between patients with traumatic intracranial findings and negative findings on head CT. The resultant models were then tested in the validation cohort (n=66, Cambridge, UK). The levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein and ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 were also quantified in the serum from the same patients. Despite there being significant differences in the protein biomarkers in patients with TBI, the model that determined the need for a CT scan validated poorly (AUC=0.64: Cambridge patients). However, using a combination of six metabolites (two amino acids, three sugar derivatives and one ketoacid) it was possible to discriminate patients with intracranial abnormalities on CT and patients with a normal CT (AUC=0.77 in Turku patients and AUC=0.73 in Cambridge patients). Furthermore, a combination of three metabolites could distinguish between diffuse brain injuries and mass lesions (AUC=0.87 in Turku patients and AUC=0.68 in Cambridge patients). This study identifies a set of validated serum polar metabolites, which associate with the need for a CT scan. Additionally, serum metabolites can also predict the nature of the brain injury. These metabolite markers may prevent unnecessary CT scans, thus reducing the cost of diagnostics and radiation load.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number22
Pages (from-to)2673–2683
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

ID: 54693945