University of Tasmania
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Acute stroke biomarkers: Are we there yet?

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 02:08 authored by Dagonnier, M, Donnan, GA, Davis, SM, Dewey, HM, David Howells

Background: Distinguishing between stroke subtypes and knowing the time of stroke onset are critical in clinical practice. Thrombolysis and thrombectomy are very effective treatments in selected patients with acute ischemic stroke. Neuroimaging helps decide who should be treated and how they should be treated but is expensive, not always available and can have contraindications. These limitations contribute to the under use of these reperfusion therapies.

Aim: An alternative approach in acute stroke diagnosis is to identify blood biomarkers which reflect the body’s response to the damage caused by the different types of stroke. Specific blood biomarkers capable of differentiating ischemic from hemorrhagic stroke and mimics, identifying large vessel occlusion and capable of predicting stroke onset time would expedite diagnosis and increase eligibility for reperfusion therapies.

Summary of Review: To date, measurements of candidate biomarkers have usually occurred beyond the time window for thrombolysis. Nevertheless, some candidate markers of brain tissue damage, particularly the highly abundant glial structural proteins like GFAP and S100β and the matrix protein MMP-9 offer promising results. Grouping of biomarkers in panels can offer additional specificity and sensitivity for ischemic stroke diagnosis. Unbiased “omics” approaches have great potential for biomarker identification because of greater gene, protein, and metabolite coverage but seem unlikely to be the detection methodology of choice because of their inherent cost.

Conclusion: To date, despite the evolution of the techniques used in their evaluation, no individual candidate or multimarker panel has proven to have adequate performance for use in an acute clinical setting where decisions about an individual patient are being made. Timing of biomarker measurement, particularly early when decision making is most important, requires urgent and systematic study.


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Frontiers in Neurology








Tasmanian School of Medicine


Frontiers Research Foundation

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Copyright © 2021 Dagonnier, Donnan, Davis, Dewey and Howells. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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Diagnosis of human diseases and conditions

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