Cell-free DNA as a marker for prediction of brain damage in traumatic brain injury in rats

Sharon Ohayon, Matthew Boyko, Amit Saad, Amos Douvdevani, Benjamin F. Gruenbaum, Israel Melamed, Yoram Shapira, Vivian I. Teichberg, Alexander Zlotnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and early predictors of neurological outcomes are of great clinical importance. Cell free DNA (CFD), a biomarker used for the diagnosis and monitoring of several diseases, has been implicated as a possible prognostic indicator after TBI. The purpose of this study was to determine the pattern and timing of CFD levels after TBI, and whether a relationship exists between the level of CFD and brain edema and neurological outcomes. Thirty-nine Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to two groups: rats in group 1 (sham group) were anesthetized and had a scalp incision without TBI, and rats in group 2 were anesthetized and had a scalp incision with TBI, which was induced by using a weight drop model that causes diffuse brain injury. A neurological severity score (NSS) was assessed at 1, 24, and 48h after TBI. CFD was measured via blood samples drawn at t=0 (baseline), 12, 24, 48, 72, and 120h after TBI. At 48h after TBI, brain edema was determined in a subgroup of 11 rats by calculating the difference between rats' wet and dry brain weight. The significance of comparisons between and within groups (CFD levels, brain water content, and NSS) were determined using the Kruskal-Wallis, Mann-Whitney and Student t test. The correlation between CFD levels and the NSS, as well as between CFD levels and the extent of brain edema, was calculated using the Spearman and Pearson tests, respectively. Compared with baseline levels, the CFD levels in rats subjected to TBI were significantly increased at 24 and 48h after TBI (p<0.01 and p<0.05, respectively). A positive correlation was demonstrated between CFD levels 24h following TBI and the extent of brain edema (r=0.63, p<0.05), as well as between CFD levels and the NSS (r=0.79, p<0.005). In this study, we demonstrated an increase in CFD levels after TBI, as well as a correlation between CFD levels and brain edema and NSS. CFD levels may provide a quick, reliable, and simple prognostic indicator of neurological outcome in animals after TBI. Its role in humans has not been clearly elucidated, but has potentially significant clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • CFD
  • TBI
  • biomarker
  • brain edema
  • neurological performance


Dive into the research topics of 'Cell-free DNA as a marker for prediction of brain damage in traumatic brain injury in rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this