: Historically, limited sensitivity associated with traditional immunoassay methods has prevented the use of brain-specific proteins as blood biomarkers of traumatic brain injury (TBI) during triage, as these proteins exhibit low circulating concentrations. Digital ELISA is a newly-developed technique that is up to 1000 times more sensitive than conventional ELISA methods. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the use of digital ELISA over conventional ELISA improves the performance of brain-specific proteins as blood biomarkers of TBI during triage.: Blood was sampled from TBI patients (n = 13) at emergency department admission, as well as from neurologically normal controls (n = 72). Serum levels of two brain-specific proteins, neurofilament light chain (NfL) and Tau, were measured via digital ELISA. Estimated conventional ELISA measures were generated by adjusting values according to the lower limits of detection achievable with commercially available conventional ELISA assays, and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to compare the diagnostic performance of digital ELISA measures to estimated conventional ELISA measures in terms of their ability to discriminate between TBI patients and controls.: Used in combination, digital ELISA measures of NfL and Tau could discriminate between groups with 100% sensitivity and 91.7% specificity. Estimated conventional ELISA measures could only discriminate between groups with 7.7% sensitivity and 94.4% specificity. This difference in diagnostic performance was statistically significant when comparing areas under ROC curves.: The use of digital ELISA over conventional ELISA methods improves the diagnostic performance of circulating brain-specific proteins for detection of TBI during triage.
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