Acute serum free thiols: a potentially modifiable biomarker of oxidative stress following traumatic brain injury

Koen Visser*, Harm Jan van der Horn, Arno R Bourgonje, Bram Jacobs, Martin H de Borst, Pieter E Vos, Marian L C Bulthuis, Harry van Goor, Joukje van der Naalt

*Corresponding author for this work

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Serum concentrations of free thiols (key components of the extracellular antioxidant machinery) reflect the overall redox status of the human body. The objective of this exploratory study was to determine the concentrations of serum free thiols in the acute phase after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and their association with long-term outcome. In this observational cohort study, patients with TBI of various severity were included from a biobank of prospectively enrolled TBI patients. Further eligibility criteria included an available blood sample and head computed tomography data, obtained within 24 h of injury, as well as a functional outcome assessment (Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended (GOSE)) at 6 months post-injury. Serum free thiol concentrations were markedly lower in patients with TBI (n = 77) compared to healthy controls (n = 55) (mean +/- standard deviation; 210.3 +/- 63.3 vs. 301.8 +/- 23.9 mu M, P < 0.001) indicating increased oxidative stress. Concentrations of serum free thiols were higher in patients with complete functional recovery (GOSE = 8) than in patients with incomplete recovery (GOSE < 8) (median [interquartile range]; 235.7 [205.1-271.9] vs. 205.2 [173-226.7] mu M, P = 0.016), suggesting that patients with good recovery experience less oxidative stress in the acute phase after TBI or have better redox function. Acute TBI is accompanied by a markedly lower concentration of serum free thiols compared to healthy controls indicating that serum free thiols may be a novel biomarker of TBI. Future studies are warranted to validate our findings and explore the clinical applicability and prognostic capability of this candidate-biomarker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5883–5892
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurology
Early online date1-Jul-2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2022


  • Free radicals
  • Redox
  • Markers
  • Outcome
  • Head injury

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