Elevated Cerebrospinal Fluid Protein Is Associated with Unfavorable Functional Outcome in Spontaneous Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Neil A. Nadkarni, Matthew B. Maas, Ayush Batra, Minjee Kim, Edward M. Manno, Farzaneh A. Sorond, Shyam Prabhakaran, Andrew M. Naidech, Eric M. Liotta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background/objective: Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a devastating neurologic event for which markers to assess poor outcome are needed. Elevated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protein may result from inflammation and blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption that occurs during SAH. We sought to determine if CSF protein level is associated with functional outcome after SAH. Methods: We prospectively collected single-center demographic and clinical data for consecutive patients admitted with spontaneous SAH. Inclusion required an external ventricular drain and daily CSF protein and cellular counts starting within 48 hours of symptom onset and extending through 7 days after onset. Seven-day average CSF protein was determined from daily measured values after correcting for contemporaneous CSF red blood cell (RBC) count. Three-month functional outcome was assessed by telephone interview with good outcome defined as modified Rankin score 0-3. Variables univariately associated with outcome at P less than .25 and measures of hemorrhage volume were included for binary logistic regression model development. Results: The study included 130 patients (88% aneurysmal SAH, 69% female, 54.8 ± 14.8 years, Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] 14 [7-15]). Three-month outcome assessment was complete in 112 (86%) patients with good functional outcome in 74 (66%). CSF protein was lower in good outcome (35.3 [20.4-49.7] versus 80.5 [40.5-115.5] mg/dL; P < .001). CSF protein was not associated with cerebral vasospasm, but delayed radiographic infarction on 3 to 12-month neuroimaging was associated with higher CSF protein (46.3 [32.0-75.0] versus 30.2 [20.4-47.8] mg/dL; P = .023). Good 3-month outcome was independently associated with lower CSF protein (odds ratios [OR] .39 [.23-.70] for 75th versus 25th percentile of protein; P = .001) and higher admission GCS (OR 1.23 [1.10-1.37] for good outcome per GCS point increase; P < .001). Parenchymal hematoma predicted worse outcome (OR 6.31 [1.58-25.25]; P = .009). Results were similar after excluding nonaneurysmal SAH and after including CSF RBC count, CT score, and intraventricular hemorrhage volume in models. Conclusions: Elevated average CSF protein is associated with poor outcome after spontaneous SAH. Further research should investigate if elevated CSF protein identifies patients in whom mechanisms such as BBB disruption contribute to poor outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104605
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • blood-brain barrier
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • hemorrhagic stroke
  • inflammation
  • outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery


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