• biomarker;
  • cell death;
  • ischemia;
  • diagnosis;
  • stroke;
  • traumatic brain injury


Ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1), also called neuronal-specific protein gene product 9.5, is a highly abundant protein in the neuronal cell body and has been identified as a possible biomarker on the basis of a recent proteomic study. In this study, we examined whether UCH-L1 was significantly elevated in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) following controlled cortical impact (CCI) and middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO; model of ischemic stroke) in rats. Quantitative immunoblots of rat CSF revealed a dramatic elevation of UCH-L1 protein 48 h after severe CCI and as early as 6 h after mild (30 min) and severe (2 h) MCAO. A sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay constructed to measure UCH-L1 sensitively and quantitatively showed that CSF UCH-L1 levels were significantly elevated as early as 2 h and up to 48 h after CCI. Similarly, UCH-L1 levels were also significantly elevated in CSF from 6 to 72 h after 30 min of MCAO and from 6 to 120 h after 2 h of MCAO. These data are comparable to the profile of the calpain-produced αII-spectrin breakdown product of 145 kDa biomarker. Importantly, serum UCH-L1 biomarker levels were also significantly elevated after CCI. Similarly, serum UCH-L1 levels in the 2-h MCAO group were significantly higher than those in the 30-min group. Taken together, these data from two rat models of acute brain injury strongly suggest that UCH-L1 is a candidate brain injury biomarker detectable in biofluid compartments (CSF and serum).