Background: Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) is a stress-responsive cytokine that is induced after experimental brain injury. We hypothesized that the circulating levels of GDF-15 are increased and associated with neurological outcome in patients with ischemic stroke. Methods: Serial blood samples were obtained between 6 h and 7 days after symptom onset in 57 consecutive patients with acute ischemic stroke (n = 51) or transient ischemic attack (n = 6). GDF-15 was measured by immunoradiometric assay. Neurological outcome using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 7 and 90 days was classified as favorable (mRS 0 or 1) or unfavorable (mRS >1). Results: Six hours after symptom onset, GDF-15 levels were abnormally high (>1,200 ng/l) in 68% of the patients. They declined by 8% over the course of 7 days (p < 0.001). GDF-15 levels were correlated with the circulating levels of the inflammatory marker interleukin-6 and the glial protein S100 calcium binding protein B, and with carotid intima-media thickness. Ischemic stroke patients with an mRS score >1 at 7 or 90 days had higher circulating levels of GDF-15 at all preceding sampling time points compared to patients with an mRS score of 0 or 1 (p ≤ 0.002). Similarly, in a logistic regression analysis, GDF-15 levels measured between 6 h and 7 days after symptom onset were associated with mRS at 7 and 90 days. Conclusions: These data show for the first time that the circulating levels of GDF-15 are elevated and associated with neurological outcome in patients with ischemic stroke.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)