Post-mortem serum concentrations of GFAP correlate with agony time but do not indicate a primary cerebral cause of death

  • Background and purpose: The astroglial protein GFAP is a blood biomarker indicative of intracerebral hemorrhage in patients with acute stroke. Due to its brain specificity and the necessity of brain damage for its detectability in blood, we hypothesized that GFAP could be an interesting marker in cases with primary cerebral cause of death, e.g., traumatic brain injury. Methods: All corpses scheduled for an autopsy in the Frankfurt Department of Forensic medicine within a 15-month period were included in the study. Cases with a known history of brain disease in the 3 months before death were excluded. During autopsy, blood was collected and GFAP serum levels were determined using a commercially available ELISA. The autopsy protocols were reviewed for the presence of a primary cerebral or a primary non-cerebral cause of death. Agony time was also determined. Results: A total of 129 autopsy cases were included. GFAP concentrations did not differ between cerebral (median 0.96 μg/l, IQR 5.03) and non-cerebral causes of death (1.21 μg/l, 3.58). GFAP levels were found to be unaffected by hemolysis or post-mortem interval. GFAP levels were found to be increased in cases with prolonged agony times (median 1.76 μg/l [IQR 4.70]) compared to short (0.58 μg/l [0.58]; p<0.001) and ultra-short agony times (0.21 μg/l [0.12]; p = 0.002). Conclusion: Post-mortem GFAP serum concentrations correlate with agony time and might therefore be useful for the evaluation of the severity of brain damage in prolonged death. Elevated GFAP serum levels do not indicate a primary cerebral cause of death.

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Author:Benedict Breitling, Robert BrunkhorstGND, Marcel A. VerhoffORCiDGND, Christian FörchORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):PLoS one
Place of publication:Lawrence, Kan.
Contributor(s):Ken Arai
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/10/10
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/10/11
Tag:Autopsy; Blood; Blood-brain barrier; Brain damage; Cerebral ischemia; Hemorrhage; Medical hypoxia; Traumatic brain injury
Issue:(10): e0205323
Page Number:11
First Page:1
Last Page:11
Copyright: © 2018 Breitling et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0