Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) and Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) are significant public health concerns. These conditions traditionally rely on symptoms and brain imaging for diagnosis, a process which sometimes may fail to capture the complexity of the disorders. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) currently provide the main sources of molecular biomarkers used in diagnosing TBIs and PCS. However, these collection methods are invasive, often causing discomfort to the patients.
This is where salivary biomarkers present an exciting prospect, as they could revolutionize how we diagnose TBIs and PCS. Their non-invasive and cost-effective collection, transport, and processing methods make them an appealing alternative to current practices.
In recent years, researchers have been investigating the potential of salivary biomarkers for diagnosing TBIs and PCS. They have unearthed a handful of potential biomarkers, primarily focusing on micro RNAs – tiny molecules that can influence gene expression. However, they have also identified several other candidates, including extracellular vesicles, neurofilament light chain, and S100B. These molecules are of particular interest because of their roles in the nervous system, making them potential indicators of brain injury.
Applying these salivary biomarkers, combined with a thorough review of the patient’s clinical history, a comprehensive physical examination, an analysis of self-reported symptoms, and cognitive/balance testing, could provide a groundbreaking, non-invasive alternative to the current diagnostic methodology. This integrated approach has the potential to enable quicker, less invasive diagnoses, easing patient discomfort and aiding in more efficient treatment planning.
The potential of salivary biomarkers in diagnosing TBIs and PCS is evident. However, it is also important to remember that this field is still in its early stages. While the initial studies have been promising, more research is needed to validate these findings and establish standardized procedures for utilizing these biomarkers in clinical practice.
As we wait for more developments in this exciting field, the potential of salivary biomarkers serves as a reminder of the advancements science continues to make in improving patient care. If successful, we might be on the brink of a non-invasive revolution in diagnosing TBIs and PCS, improving patient comfort, and providing quicker and more accurate diagnoses.