A pilot study of novel biomarkers in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy

Martha Douglas-Escobar, Cui Yang, Jeffrey Bennett, Jonathan Shuster, Douglas Theriaque, Avital Leibovici, David Kays, Tong Zheng, Candace Rossignol, Gerry Shaw, Michael D. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a devastating condition that can lead to mortality and long-term disabilities in term newborns. No rapid and reliable laboratory test exists to assess the degree of neuronal injury in these patients. We propose two possible biomarkers: 1) phosphorylated axonal neurofilament heavy chain (pNF-H) protein, one of the major subunits of neurofilaments, found only in axonal cytoskeleton of neurons and 2) Ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase 1 (UCHL1 protein) that is heavily and specifically concentrated in neuronal perikarya and dendrites. High-serum pNF-H and UCHL1 levels are reported in subarachnoid hemorrhage and traumatic brain injury, suggesting that they are released into blood following neuronal injury. We hypothesized that serum pNF-H and UCHL1 were higher in neonates with moderate-to-severe HIE than in healthy neonates. A time-limited enrollment of 14 consecutive patients with HIE and 14 healthy controls was performed. UCHL1 and pNF-H were correlated with clinical data and brain MRI. UCHL1 and pNF-H serum levels were higher in HIE versus controls. UCHL1 showed correlation with the 10-min Apgar score, and pNF-H showed correlation with abnormal brain MRI. Our findings suggest that serum UCHL1 and pNF-H could be explored as diagnostic and prognostic tools in neonatal HIE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-536
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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