ATF3 as an Easily Measurable Injured Neuron-Specific Biomarker for Injuries of the Central Nervous System

The invention is a method of assessing brain and spinal cord injuries using a blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-based polypeptide biomarker. UCSF researchers have found that ATF3 is induced specifically in the injured brain and spinal cord neurons, suggesting that ATF3 is a specific marker for injured neurons in the central nervous system (CNS). Increased ATF3 protein levels in blood and CSF have been found after stroke as well as spinal cord injury. These findings provide an opportunity to leverage ATF3 as a neuron-specific biomarker measurement to determine the severity and predict the clinical outcomes in patients with CNS damage and potentially other neurological disorders.


Neuronal injury is the major pathology caused by CNS injuries like stroke or spinal cord injury. However, currently available biomarkers for CNS injuries are either not expressed in neurons at all, or are expressed constitutively in all neurons, regardless of whether the neurons are injured or not. ATF3 as a CNS injury biomarker is revolutionary because its baseline expression in CNS is very low, and it is rapidly induced only in CNS neurons shortly after CNS injuries like stroke or spinal cord injury. Of note, human serum ATF3 level can be easily measured by a commercially available ELISA kit.



Potential Applications

Determine severity and predict outcomes of CNS injuries (including stroke, cardiac arrest, spinal cord traumatic injury, likely traumatic brain injury, and potentially other neurological disorders)

Contact Information

Name: Lindsay Sanford