Salivary Biomarkers in Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury


Valleywise Health




Traumatic Brain Injury

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


By studying individual biomarkers in body fluids such as saliva, there is a potential for detecting injury to the brain resulting from an acute traumatic even that may not be detectable by conventional neuroimaging like CT scans.

Full description

Although identification of biomarkers following TBI is a rather novel area of research, few studies that have been done in patients with severe TBI and biomarkers from serum and cerebrospinal fluid have shown to have prognostic significance. However there are no prior studies looking at biomarkers in salivary specimens. In this study we will include patients with moderate and severe TBI who require inpatient admission, and will study 3 specific salivary biomarkers. This is a unique project, since salivary specimen collection is easy and non-invasive and can be collected at any site even on a sports field by using a simple absorbable swab resembling a cigarette stub, unlike blood or CSF that can be highly invasive. Salivary specimens can also be frozen and stored for long periods of time prior to testing. If our study detects abnormalities in levels of these biomarkers when compared to healthy controls, and children with extra-cerebral injuries, in future studies we can look at children and adolescents with minor head traumas and concussions who are discharged from the emergency department after evaluation, and study their long-term outcomes and correlation with salivary biomarkers. Specific aims: To study levels of three specific biomarkers in salivary specimens (GFAP, S100B and NSE) in children with moderate TBI (GCS: 9-12) and severe TBI (GCS: <8) admitted to a pediatric trauma referral center. These biomarkers have been shown to have prognostic significance in prior studies using serum and CSF.


77 patients




Under 18 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Children aged 0 to 20 who present to the pediatric ED or trauma bay with an isolated acute head injury (moderate or severe) and are admitted for inpatient management;
  • Pediatric patients who present to the ED with non-trauma complaints; and
  • Pediatric patients who present to the ED with non-head trauma such as musculoskeletal injuries.

Exclusion criteria

  • Patients with multisystem trauma;
  • Patients with minor head trauma (GCS 13-15) discharged from the pediatric ED
  • Patients with other pre-existing neurological conditions (such as cerebral palsy, chronic seizure disorder, VP shunts);
  • Patients with a history suggestive of head trauma from chronic abuse;
  • Incarcerated patients or patients from juvenile detention facilities;
  • Refusal of parent/patient to participate for any specific reason.

Trial design

77 participants in 3 patient groups

Control Group 1
Children with non-trauma complaints
Control Group 2
Children with non TBI and musculoskeletal trauma
Children admitted to hospital with moderate/severe isolatedTBI

Trial contacts and locations



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