Blood Biomarkers of Sports-Related Concussion in Pediatric Athletes

Anthony J. Anzalone, Stephanie M. Turner, Angela C. Baleztena, Tiffany McGuffin, Kalyssa Creed, Andreas Jeromin, David Wilson, David Hanlon, J. Craig Garrison, Damond Blueitt, Jonathan M. Oliver*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine changes in blood biomarkers, serum neurofilament light (Nf-L), and plasma tau, as well as the relationship between blood biomarkers and symptom reports, in athletes with a sports-related concussion. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Private community-based concussion clinic. Participants: Athletes aged 13 to 18 years old with a diagnosed sports-related concussion presenting to a concussion clinic within 7 days of injury and noninjured athletes with no history of concussion aged 13 to 23 years old. Assessment and Main Outcome Measures: Injured athletes provided a blood sample at the initial clinical evaluation and again at least 6 months after injury. Noninjured athletes provided a single blood sample. All participants completed symptom reports during each visit. Statistical comparisons of biomarker concentrations and symptom reports were conducted. Results: The mean rank for tau was significantly lower for concussed athletes compared with nonconcussed athletes. In contrast, the mean rank of Nf-L was higher for concussed athletes than for nonconcussed athletes, although the difference was nonsignificant. Plasma tau was significantly lower postinjury compared with 6 months after injury, whereas serum Nf-L was significantly higher postinjury. There was a weak but significant inverse relationship observed between tau and the number of symptoms reported, but no relationship was observed between Nf-L and the number of symptoms reported. Conclusions: These data indicate that in the days following a sports-related concussion, the blood biomarkers tau and Nf-L display contrasting patterns of change but may not be related to self-reported symptom scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-256
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • Axonal injury
  • Biomarkers
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Sports-related head trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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