STUDY DESIGN This is a narrative review of the literature on neurochemical biomarkers in spinal cord injury (SCI).
OBJECTIVES The objective was to summarize the literature on neurochemical biomarkers in SCI and describe their use in facilitating clinical trials for SCI. Clinical trials in spinal cord injury (SCI) have been notoriously difficult to conduct, as exemplified by the paucity of definitive prospective randomized trials that have been completed, to date. This is related to the relatively low incidence and the complexity and heterogeneity of the human SCI condition. Given the increasing number of promising approaches that are emerging from the laboratory which are vying for clinical evaluation, novel strategies to help facilitate clinical trials are needed.
METHODS A literature review was conducted, with a focus on neurochemical biomarkers that have been described in human neurotrauma.
RESULTS We describe advances in our understanding of neurochemical biomarkers as they pertain to human SCI. The application of biomarkers from serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has been led by efforts in the human traumatic brain injury (TBI) literature. A number of promising biomarkers have been described in human SCI whereby they may assist in stratifying injury severity and predicting outcome.
CONCLUSIONS Several time-specific biomarkers have been described for acute SCI and for chronic SCI. These appear promising for stratifying injury severity and potentially predicting outcome. The subsequent application within a clinical trial will help to demonstrate their utility in facilitating the study of novel approaches for SCI.