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Brain injury plasma biomarkers in patients on veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: A pilot prospective observational study.

Perfusion 2024 May 18
INTRODUCTION: Early diagnosis of acute brain injury (ABI) is critical for patients on veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (V-A ECMO) to guide anticoagulation strategy; however, neurological assessment in ECMO is often limited by patient sedation.

METHODS: In this pilot study of adults from June 2018 to May 2019, plasma samples of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), neurofilament light chain (NFL), and tubulin associated unit (Tau) were collected daily after V-A ECMO cannulation and measured using a multiplex platform. Primary outcomes were occurrence of ABI, assessed clinically, and neurologic outcome, assessed by modified Rankin Scale (mRS).

RESULTS: Of 20 consented patients (median age = 48.5°years; 55% female), 8 (40%) had ABI and 15 (75%) had unfavorable neurologic outcome at discharge. 10 (50%) patients were centrally cannulated. Median duration on ECMO was 4.5°days (IQR: 2.5-9.5). Peak GFAP, NFL, and Tau levels were higher in patients with ABI vs. without (AUC = 0.77; 0.85; 0.57, respectively) and in patients with unfavorable vs. favorable neurologic outcomes (AUC = 0.64; 0.59; 0.73, respectively). GFAP elevated first, NFL elevated to the highest degree, and Tau showed limited change regardless of ABI.

CONCLUSION: Further studies are warranted to determine how plasma biomarkers may facilitate early detection of ABIs in V-A ECMO to assist timely clinical decision-making.

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