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Researchers Discover Protein That Predicts Post-Concussion Severity In Professional Athletes

Update Date: Nov 26, 2014 10:03 AM EST

Researchers have found that elevated levels in the blood of the brain-enriched protein calpain-cleaved αII-spectrin N-terminal fragment, known as SNTF, shortly after sports-related concussion, can predict the severity of post-concussion symptoms in professional athletes, according to a press release. 

The present study is based on a previous research that showed elevated blood levels of SNTF on the day of a mild traumatic brain injury treated in the emergency room predicted those patients who would go on to suffer diffuse axonal injury and long-term cognitive dysfunction.

"We extended this biomarker research to the domain of professional sports to test its merit as an objective and rapid way to determine players' severity of brain injury," said lead author, Robert Siman, PhD, Research Professor of Neurosurgery at Penn, in the press release. "This blood test may aid neurobiologically-informed decisions on suitability for return to play following a sports-related concussion."

"These results show that SNTF has promise as a blood biomarker for sports-related concussion and beyond. High blood levels of SNTF appear to identify acute brain damage that corresponds with persisting symptoms after concussion. These observations lend further support to the growing awareness that concussion is not trivial, since it can induce permanent brain damage in some individuals," added Siman. 

The findings of the study were detailed in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

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