Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) interacts with tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) to promote neuronal growth, survival, differentiation, neurotransmitter release, and synaptic plasticity. The translocator protein (TSPO) is known to be found in arterial plaques, which are a symptom of atherosclerosis and a contributory cause of ischemic stroke. This study aims to determine the diagnostic accuracy of plasma BDNF and TSPO levels in discriminating new-onset acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients from individuals without acute ischemic stroke. A total of 90 AIS patients (61% male, with a mean age of 67.7 ± 12.88) were recruited consecutively in a stroke unit, and each patient was paired with two age- and gender-matched controls. The sensitivity, specificity, and area of the curve between high plasma BDNF and TSPO and having AIS was determined using receiver operating characteristic curves. Furthermore, compared to the controls, AIS patients exhibited significantly higher levels of BDNF and TSPO, blood pressure, HbA1c, and white blood cells, as well as higher creatinine levels. The plasma levels of BDNF and TSPO can significantly discriminate AIS patients from healthy individuals (AUC 0.76 and 0.89, respectively). However, combining the two biomarkers provided little improvement in AUC (0.90). It may be possible to use elevated levels of TSPO as a diagnostic biomarker in patients with acute ischemic stroke upon admission.
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