Plasma von Willebrand Factor Levels May Be Useful as Biomarkers in Traumatic Brain Injury

Notebook page with text TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY, on a table with a stethoscope and pen, medical concept.
In an abstract presented at AAN 2021, researchers demonstrated the use of von Willebrand Factor as a biomarker of traumatic brain injury.

The following article is part of conference coverage from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting. Neurology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from the AAN 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.

Plasma levels of von Willebrand Factor (vWF) may serve as useful biomarkers of traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly in regard to self-reported postconcussive symptoms and hospitalization risk, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting, held from April 17 to 22.

Increased expression of endothelial cell-derived vWF has been previously linked to vascular and neurodegenerative forms of dementia, with research suggesting the role of vWF as a biomarker of cerebrovascular pathology. A total of 13.5 million people in the United States have an increased risk for disability associated with TBI, therefore serum vWF may represent a useful biomarker in its prognosis and treatment.

In the current study, the researchers measured plasma vWF levels in 17 professional boxers aged between 18 and 35 years, both before and after boxing bouts. Participants had a Rivermead Post Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ-3) score of at least 1, with 25 or greater previous head blows. Data from these boxers were compared with the plasma vWF levels in 42 patients who presented to a trauma center with TBI vs 23 uninjured control participants.

Researchers observed a 1.8-fold increase in vWF levels within a 30-minute period after boxing bouts (P <.0009). The fold-change in vWF moderately correlated with the number of head blows (r=0.51; P =.03). In addition, there was a significant correlation between fold-changes in vWF and self-reported postconcussive symptoms (r=0.69; P =.002), as measured by the RPQ-3.

Researchers observed a significant increase in serum levels of vWF in the hospitalized TBI patient group vs the control group (mean, 73.2±31.5 vs 40.8±12.4 mg/mL, respectively; P <.0001).

Researchers concluded that considering vWF has a known role “in microthrombosis, it represents an attractive candidate biomarker for traumatic microvascular injury.”


Thomas R, Gatson J, Silverman E, et al. von Willebrand Factor (vWF) as a biomarker of traumatic brain injury. AAN 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting; April 17-22, 2021. Abstract S26.005