Publication Date



Journal of Neurotrauma


Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) accounts for 70–90% of all TBI cases. Lipid metabolites have important roles in plasma membrane biogenesis, function, and cell signaling. As TBI can compromise plasma membrane integrity and alter brain cell function, we sought to identify circulating phospholipid alterations after mTBI, and determine if these changes were associated with clinical outcomes. Patients with mTBI (Glasgow Coma Score [GCS] ≥13 and loss of consciousness <30 min) were recruited. A total of 84 mTBI subjects were enrolled after admission to a level I trauma center, with the majority having evidence of traumatic intracranial hemorrhage on brain computed tomography (CT). Plasma samples were collected within 24 h of injury with 32 mTBI subjects returning at 3 months after injury for a second plasma sample to be collected. Thirty-five healthy volunteers were enrolled as controls and had a one-time blood draw. Lipid metabolomics was performed on plasma samples from each subject. Fold change of selected lipid metabolites was determined. Multivariable regression models were created to test associations between lipid metabolites and discharge and 6-month Glasgow Outcomes Scale-Extended (GOSE) outcomes (dichotomized between “good” [GOSE ≥7] and “bad” [GOSE ≤6] functional outcomes). Plasma levels of 31 lipid metabolites were significantly associated with discharge GOSE using univariate models; three of these metabolites were significantly increased, while 14 were significantly decreased in subjects with good outcomes compared with subjects with poor outcomes. In multivariable logistic regression models, higher circulating levels of the lysophospholipids (LPL) 1-linoleoyl-glycerophosphocholine (GPC) (18:2), 1-linoleoyl-GPE (18:2), and 1-linolenoyl-GPC (18:3) were associated with both good discharge GOSE (odds ratio [OR] 12.2 [95% CI 3.35, 58.3], p = 5.23 × 10−4; OR 9.43 [95% CI 2.87, 39.6], p = 7.26 × 10−4; and OR 5.26 [95% CI 1.99, 16.7], p = 2.04 × 10−3, respectively) and 6-month (OR 4.67 [95% CI 1.49, 17.7], p = 0.013; OR 2.93 [95% CI 1.11, 8.87], p = 0.039; and OR 2.57 [95% CI 1.08, 7.11], p = 0.046, respectively). Compared with healthy volunteers, circulating levels of these three LPLs were decreased early after injury and had normalized by 3 months after injury. Logistic regression models to predict functional outcomes were created by adding each of the described three LPLs to a baseline model that included age and sex. Including 1-linoleoyl-GPC (18:2) (8.20% improvement, p = 0.009), 1-linoleoyl-GPE (18:2) (8.85% improvement, p = 0.021), or 1-linolenoyl-GPC (18:3) (7.68% improvement, p = 0.012), significantly improved the area under the curve (AUC) for predicting discharge outcomes compared with the baseline model. Models including 1-linoleoyl-GPC (18:2) significantly improved AUC for predicting 6-month outcomes (9.35% improvement, p = 0.034). Models including principal components derived from 25 LPLs significantly improved AUC for prediction of 6-month outcomes (16.0% improvement, p = 0.020). Our results demonstrate that higher plasma levels of LPLs (1-linoleoyl-GPC, 1-linoleoyl-GPE, and 1-linolenoyl-GPC) after mTBI are associated with better functional outcomes at discharge and 6 months after injury. This class of phospholipids may represent a potential therapeutic target.


biomarkers, lysophospholipids, mild traumatic brain injury, outcomes



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