Johns Hopkins Children's Center scientists have discovered that high blood levels of a protein commonly found in the central nervous system can predict brain injury and death in critically ill children on a form of life support called extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO.
ECMO, used to temporarily oxygenate the blood of patients whose heart and lungs are too weak or damaged to do so on their own, is most often used as a last resort because it can increase the risk for brain bleeding, brain swelling, stroke and death in some patients.
A detailed report of the Hopkins team's findings is published ahead of print Nov. 4 in the journal Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.
Following 22 ECMO patients, ranging from two days to 9 years of age, the researchers found that those with abnormally high levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were 13 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to suffer brain injury than children with normal GFAP levels. GFAP levels are already used as a marker of neurologic damage in adults who suffer strokes and traumatic brain injuries.
Although preliminary, the team's findings may pave the way to a much-needed way to monitor the precarious neurologic status of children on ECMO without using imaging tests like ultrasounds or CT scans. Periodic blood tests measuring GFAP levels may be one such tool to monitor brain function and help ward off brain injury and death, the researchers say.
"A simple, fast and easy-to-use test has been needed to monitor, predict and prevent brain damage in children on ECMO because these children are unresponsive or heavily sedated, and doctors cannot easily gauge their neurologic function," says study lead investigator Melania Bembea, M.D., M.P. H., a pediatric critical-care specialist at Hopkins Children's.
"Early detection of brain injury can help us prevent further harm by changing medication doses and rapidly weaning the patient from ECMO support," she adds.
The findings may have implications beyond ECMO, the researchers say, as they offer a way to monitor brain damage in other high-risk situations, including heart surgery and severely premature birth.
"Our long-term goal is to make lifesaving therapies like ECMO and heart surgery safer and more effective by improving protection of the brain, and GFAP and other biomarkers can give us a much-needed benchmark around which we can make these therapies safer," says senior investigator Allen Everett, M.D., a cardiologist at Hopkins Children's.
In the study, seven of the 22 children on ECMO developed brain bleeding or brain swelling, five of whom died subsequently. These children had much higher peak levels of GFAP than children without brain injury — 5.9 nanograms per milliliter of blood compared to 0.09 in children without brain injury. GFAP levels were also markedly higher among eight of the 22 children in the study who had poor neurologic outcomes after ECMO (3.6 ng/ml) than in those children who had good neurologic outcomes (0.09 ng/ml).
Researchers also measured GFAP levels among healthy children and among newborns without neurologic injuries. Their median GFAP level was 0.055 nanograms per milliliter of blood and as high as 0.436 in some cases. By comparison, overall GFAP levels in children with neurologic injuries were 13 times greater than GFAP levels in healthy children.
The researchers caution that their findings should be replicated in a larger trial with more patients and that future studies must clarify the relationship between a rise in GFAP levels and the onset of brain injury. In the current study, GFAP levels rose sharply in some patients one or two days before their brain damage was discovered on ultrasound.
ECMO is used in about 1,000 children each year. Between 10 percent and 60 percent of children who survive ECMO suffer neurologic damage either because of their underlying disease or complications during ECMO therapy, the researchers say.
Hopkins Children's is Maryland's only hospital providing pediatric ECMO service.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Other investigators in the study included William Savage, M.D., John Strouse, M.D., Ph.D., Jamie Schwartz, M.D., Ernest Graham, Carol Thompson, M.B.A., M.S., all of Hopkins.
ECMO Patient Story http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/tpl_rlinks_nobanner.aspx?id=5968
Hopkins Children's Cardiologist Hunts Biomarkers of Pulmonary Hypertension http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/biomarkers-of-pulmonary-hypertension.aspx
Ekaterina Pesheva | EurekAlert!
Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University
Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering