Four new biomarkers show promise for stroke prediction

Written by Mollie Spindler

Researchers at the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health (MA, USA) have identified four new biomarkers for stroke, following a 9-year study into 15 inflammatory biomarkers. The researchers suggest that these new blood markers could be used for stroke development prognosis, permitting earlier implementation of prevention therapies to improve patient outcomes.
The levels of the 15 biomarkers in 3224 participants from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort were measured and their health monitored for the period of nine years. 98 of the 3,224 participants had a stroke within the study period. Of the 15 measured biomarkers, four showed a significant prevalence in those participants who developed a stroke.

Amplified blood levels for any of the the biomarkers – homocysteine, vascular endothelial growth factor, ln-C reactive protein and ln-tumour necrosis factor receptor 2 – increased the likelihood of stroke by 25–33% for the duration of the study. Researchers demonstrated prediction of stroke development could be enhanced by adding these four biomarkers to the Framingham Stroke Risk Profile of age, sex, blood pressure and cholesterol.

However, the researcher highlight that the study was purely observational. While they identified a correlation between the risk of stroke and levels of the four inflammatory biomarkers, these data can not prove a causative relationship between the biomarkers and stroke risk.

It must also be noted that the levels of the biomarkers in the study group were only measured once in the 9-year study on participants of primarily European descent, without taking into account infections, diseases or any other conditions that overlapped with the study period.

The lead researcher on the study, Ashkan Shoamanesh of McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada), explains: “Future research could investigate whether lowering the levels of these biomarkers or blocking their action could be a way to prevent strokes. However, our study does not provide evidence that these markers are validated well enough to be implemented in clinical practice.”

Sources: Shoamanesh A, Preis SR, Beiser AS et al. Circulating biomarkers and incident ischemic stroke in the Framingham Offspring Study. Neurology doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000003115 (2016) (Epub ahead of print);