Glial fibrillar acidic protein (GFAP) in serum has been evaluated as a promising biomarker to differentiate between intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and acute ischemic stroke (AIS). We assessed its value as diagnostic and prognostic tool for ICH through a literature systematic review and individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis.
We performed a systematic search in PubMed database until November 2018 for publications that evaluated GFAP to differentiate AIS and ICH within 4.5 hours after symptoms onset. Thereafter, we invited authors of selected studies to participate in this work by providing IPD from their cohorts. We used standardized individual subject’s data to evaluate the association of GFAP concentrations with stroke subtype, demographics, stroke characteristics and factors related with GFAP measurement.
From 4 selected studies, we collected data of 340 patients (236 AIS and 104 ICH). Standardized GFAP blood levels were significantly elevated in ICH compared with those with AIS (median and IQR: 0.84 (0.781–1.24), 0.79 (0.74–0.81); p<0.0001). In both stroke types, GFAP concentrations correlated with baseline stroke severity (r=0.27, p<0.0001; r=0.36, p<0.001; for AIS and ICH, respectively) but no correlation was found regarding time to sampling. Limited data precluded the evaluation of GFAP levels and functional outcome.
These findings demonstrate substantially different levels of GFAP in the blood of patients with ICH compared with patients with AIS soon after the event, while no association was found with outcome. In summary, GFAP could be a valuable diagnostic tool to assist in medical decision-making and to optimize management of stroke in the acute setting.
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