J Neurotrauma, Apr 2021

Natural Progression of Routine Laboratory Markers following Spinal Trauma: A longitudinal, multi-cohort study

Lucie Bourguignon, Anh Khoa Vo, Bobo Tong, Fred Geisler, Orpheus Mach, Doris Maier, John Kramer, Lukas Grassner, Catherine R Jutzeler


Our objective was to track and quantify the natural course of serological markers over the 1st year following spinal cord injury. For that purpose, data on serological markers, demographics, and injury characteristics were extracted from medical records of a clinical trial (Sygen) and an ongoing observational cohort study (Murnau study). The primary outcomes were concentration/levels/amount of commonly collected serological markers at multiple time points. Two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and mixed-effects regression techniques were used to account for the longitudinal data and adjust for potential confounders. Trajectories of serological markers contained in both data sources were compared using the slope of progression. Our results show that, at baseline (≤ 2 weeks post-injury), most serological markers were at pathological levels, but returned to normal values over the course of 6-12 months post-injury. The baseline levels and longitudinal trajectories were dependent on injury severity. More complete injuries were associated with more pathological values (e.g., hematocrit, ANOVA test; χ2 = 68.93, df = 3, adjusted p value <0.001, and χ2 = 73.80, df = 3, adjusted p value <0.001, in the Sygen and Murnau studies, respectively). Comparing the two databases revealed some differences in the serological markers, which are likely attributable to differences in study design, sample size, and standard of care. We conclude that because of trauma-induced physiological perturbations, serological markers undergo marked changes over the course of recovery, from initial pathological levels that normalize within a year. The findings from this study are important, as they provide a benchmark for clinical decision making and prospective clinical trials. All results can be interactively explored on the Haemosurveillance web site (https://jutzelec.shinyapps.io/Haemosurveillance/) and GitHub repository (https://github.com/jutzca/Systemic-effects-of-Spinal-Cord-Injury).

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