Clinical and Blood Biomarker Trajectories after Concussion: New Insights from a Longitudinal Pilot Study of Professional Flat-Track Jockeys

Stuart McDonald, Stefan Piantella, William T. O'Brien, Matthew W. Hale, Paul O’Halloran, Glynda J Kinsella, Ben Horan, Terence John O'Brien, Paul T. Maruff, Sandy R. Shultz, Brad James Wright

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5 Citations (Scopus)


There is a recognized need for objective tools for detecting and tracking clinical and neuropathological recovery after sports-related concussion (SRC). Although computerized neurocognitive testing has been shown to be sensitive to cognitive deficits after SRC, and some blood biomarkers have shown promise as indicators of axonal and glial damage, the potential utility of these measures in isolation and combination for assisting SRC diagnosis and tracking recovery is not well understood. To provide new insights, we conducted a prospective study of 64 male and female professional flat-track jockeys (49 non-SRC, 15 SRC), with each jockey undergoing symptom evaluation, cognitive testing using the CogSport battery, and serum biomarker quantification of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), tau, and neurofilament light (NfL) using a Simoa HD-X Analyzer. Measures were performed at baseline (i.e., pre-injury), and 2 and 7 days and 1 and 12 months after SRC. Symptoms were most pronounced at 2 days and had largely resolved by either 7 days or 1 month. CogSport testing at 2 days revealed cognitive impairments relative to both non-concussed peers and their own pre-injury baselines, with SRC classification utility found at 2 days, and to a slightly lesser extent, at 7 days. Relatively prolonged changes in serum NfL were observed, with elevated levels and classification utility persisting beyond the resolution of SRC symptoms and cognitive deficits. Finally, SRC classification performance throughout the 1st month after SRC was optimized through the combination of cognitive testing and serum biomarkers. Considered together, these findings provide further evidence for a role of computerized cognitive testing and fluid biomarkers of neuropathology as objective measures to assist in the identification of SRC and the monitoring of clinical and neuropathological recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-62
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • CogSport
  • GFAP
  • mild traumatic brain injury
  • neurofilament light
  • sports-related concussion

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