Serum brain injury biomarkers are gestationally and post-natally regulated in non-brain injured neonates

Sandra Brooks, Barbara D. Friedes, Frances Northington, Ernest Graham, Aylin Tekes, Vera J. Burton, Gwendolyn Gerner, Jie Zhu, Raul Chavez-Valdez, Dhananjay Vaidya, Allen D. Everett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To determine the association of gestational age (GA) and day of life (DOL) with the circulating serum concentration of six brain injury-associated biomarkers in non-brain injured neonates born between 23 and 41 weeks’ GA. Methods: In a multicenter prospective observational cohort study, serum CNS-insult, inflammatory and trophic proteins concentrations were measured daily in the first 7 DOL. Results: Overall, 3232 serum samples were analyzed from 745 enrollees, median GA 32.3 weeks. BDNF increased 3.7% and IL-8 increased 8.9% each week of gestation. VEGF, IL-6, and IL-10 showed no relationship with GA. VEGF increased 10.8% and IL-8 18.9%, each DOL. IL-6 decreased by 15.8% each DOL. IL-10 decreased by 81.4% each DOL for DOL 0-3. BDNF did not change with DOL. Only 49.67% of samples had detectable GFAP and 33.15% had detectable NRGN. The odds of having detectable GFAP and NRGN increased by 53% and 11%, respectively, each week after 36 weeks’ GA. The odds of having detectable GFAP and NRGN decreased by 15% and 8%, respectively, each DOL. Conclusions: BDNF and IL-8 serum concentrations vary with GA. VEGF and interleukin concentrations are dynamic in the first week of life, suggesting circulating levels should be adjusted for GA and DOL for clinically relevant assessment of brain injury. Impact: Normative data of six brain injury-related biomarkers is being proposed.When interpreting serum concentrations of brain injury biomarkers, it is key to adjust for gestational age at birth and day of life during the first week to correctly assess for clinical brain injury in neonates.Variation in levels of some biomarkers may be related to gestational and postnatal age and not necessarily pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPediatric research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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