New protein biomarker highlights damaged brain wiring after concussion

Physicians and others now recognize that seemingly mild, concussion-type head injuries lead to long-term cognitive impairments surprisingly often. A brain protein called SNTF, which rises in the blood after some concussions, signals the type of brain damage that is thought to be the source of these cognitive impairments, according to a study led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.

“The brain protein specifically indicates the presence of nerve fibre damage that we call diffuse axonal injury,” said senior author Douglas H. Smith, MD, director of the Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair and the Robert A. Groff Professor of Neurosurgery. “Our findings also confirm that even relatively mild, concussion-type brain impacts can cause permanent damage of this kind.”

The results suggest that blood tests for SNTF might one day be used to diagnose diffuse axonal injury and predict cognitive impairment in concussion patients. Penn Medicine