In an acute care setting, evaluation of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often complicated by alcohol intoxication. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the clinical utility of the protein S100B as a biochemical marker for identifying brain injury in patients who are intoxicated at the time of injury.
The study participants were 160 patients who presented to a large urban Level I Trauma Centre in Vancouver, Canada. Patients were classified into four clinical groups (medical controls, trauma controls, mild TBI, and definite TBI) and two day-of-injury alcohol intoxication groups (i.e., sober and intoxicated). Blood samples were collected via venipuncture in heparinized tubes within 8 hours of injury. Measures of S100B concentration were obtained using a commercially available assay kit (Sangtec 100 Elisa).
For those patients who were sober at the time of injury, higher S100B levels were associated with TBI when compared with other physical injuries and general medical complaints. However, for patients who were intoxicated at the time of injury, there were uniformly low S100B levels across all clinical groups.
Although there seems to be a strong association between S100B levels and TBI, further research is required to establish the clinical role of S100B in patients with suspected TBI, particularly in patients whose clinical presentation is complicated by alcohol intoxication.