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Clin Chem. 2012 Jan;58(1):237-45. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2011.172676. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

Diagnostic accuracy of plasma glial fibrillary acidic protein for differentiating intracerebral hemorrhage and cerebral ischemia in patients with symptoms of acute stroke.

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Department of Neurology, Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.



Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is a biomarker candidate indicative of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in patients with symptoms of acute stroke. GFAP is released rapidly in the presence of expanding intracerebral bleeding, whereas a more gradual release occurs in ischemic stroke. In this study the diagnostic accuracy of plasma GFAP was determined in a prospective multicenter approach.


Within a 1-year recruitment period, patients suspected of having acute (symptom onset<4.5 h before admission) hemispheric stroke were prospectively included into the study in 14 stroke centers in Germany and Switzerland. A blood sample was collected at admission, and plasma GFAP was measured by use of an electrochemiluminometric immunoassay. The final diagnosis, established at hospital discharge, was classified as ICH, ischemic stroke, or stroke mimic.


The study included 205 patients (39 ICH, 163 ischemic stroke, 3 stroke mimic). GFAP concentrations were increased in patients with ICH compared with patients with ischemic stroke [median (interquartile range) 1.91 μg/L (0.41-17.66) vs 0.08 μg/L (0.02-0.14), P<0.001]. Diagnostic accuracy of GFAP for differentiating ICH from ischemic stroke and stroke mimic was high [area under the curve 0.915 (95% CI 0.847-0.982), P<0.001]. A GFAP cutoff of 0.29 μg/L provided diagnostic sensitivity of 84.2% and diagnostic specificity of 96.3% for differentiating ICH from ischemic stroke and stroke mimic.


Plasma GFAP analysis performed within 4.5 h of symptom onset can differentiate ICH and ischemic stroke. Studies are needed to evaluate a GFAP point-of-care system that may help optimize the prehospital triage and management of patients with symptoms of acute stroke.

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