Biomarkers of 'brain age' may be better at predicting stroke care and recovery

Biomarkers of ‘brain age’ may be better at predicting stroke care and recovery

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Examining biomarkers of ‘brain age’ with MRI scans may help doctors better treat strokes and provide clearer insights into patients’ recovery outcomes. Calot / Photonews / Getty Images
  • New research is examining the use of radiology, a type of image measurement technology, as a way to measure vital signs from MRI scans to monitor stroke and recovery after stroke.
  • In the 4,000 study, stroke patients with an estimated brain age higher than their actual chronological age were more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, a history of smoking, or a previous history of stroke.
  • These scans may provide clinicians with useful insights into how to customize care and predict recovery times and outcomes.

A new form of technology could help estimate the relative age of the brain in stroke patients.

A study recently presented at the European Stroke Organization conference found that radiology, a type of image measurement technology, can extract biomarkers from an MRI scan and use them in stroke monitoring, as well as to predict recovery after stroke. An initial version of the research, which has not been peer-reviewed, was published in September 2021.

“Age is one of the most influential determinants of post-stroke outcomes, but little is known about the effect of ‘neural imaging-derived biological brain age,’” Dr. Martin Pritzner, lead author of the study and researcher from Harvard Medical School said in a press release.

Our results show that quantification of relative brain age in stroke patients can be useful in assessing a patient’s brain health globally, and useful in predicting a patient’s recovery from stroke. It will also be very easy to communicate with doctors and patients on this biomarker, as everyone instinctively understands the negative effects of the accelerated brain aging process.”

While conducting their research, Pritzner and colleagues reviewed more than 4,000 stroke patients in Europe and the United States.

They used radiology to estimate the relative age of the brain. Radiomics is an emerging technology that uses mathematical analysis to extract certain biomarkers from neurological images, such as MRI scans.

The researchers found that stroke patients with an estimated brain age higher than their actual chronological age were more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, a history of smoking, or a previous history of stroke.

Those with a relatively older brain age did not have a positive outcome after a stroke when compared to those with a younger mental age.

The researchers say that by using radiology to estimate the actual age of a person’s brain, doctors will be able to learn how resilient the brain is to factors such as time and cardiovascular risk factors. It will also help doctors estimate how well a person can recover from a stroke.

Using technology such as radiology could provide a new opportunity, says Dr. Campiz Nael, professor of radiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“With advances in image processing, improved computational power, and artificial intelligence, imaging-derived radiums could open a new window of opportunity to extract hidden information beyond the limited human visual system. This study took the first step in that direction, although we need to Further verification I am cautiously optimistic about the use of radiology and big data to assess future outcomes and categorize risks.

Other experts agree.

The technology may also be useful in guiding patients to modify their risk factors, says Jason Tarpley, MD, a stroke neurologist and director of the Center for Stroke and Neurovascular Diseases at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.

“It can be helpful, even in just showing patients that there are modifiable risk factors, and your brain is showing some evidence of harm associated with those factors,” he said.

“You can actually understand what that brain went through.”

But Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, a neurologist in Keck Medicine at UCLA, argues that knowing the relative age of a person’s brain is not helpful in the context of a stroke.

“I don’t think for stroke purposes, that really matters. I think it’s really applicable in neurodegenerative diseases or in neuroimmunology, where the changes are very subtle over time… I think it would be very useful in those areas. I don’t think it’s helpful. Really for a stroke.

The study researchers argue that radiology can contribute to the development of new strategies for stroke prevention and recovery.

It’s an idea that could have a huge impact on the field of post-stroke rehabilitation, says Sandra Bellinger, PhD, professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

But she says more research is needed to confirm the usefulness of radiology in stroke monitoring and recovery. If information from this study and future work helps with acute stroke treatment, rehabilitation treatment protocols can lead [the] The best treatment method, then it can be radiology technique [a] Huge impact on the field. However, more studies with a larger sample will be needed.

2022-05-05 21:32:30

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