WEDNESDAY, Nov. 7, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- It may be possible to use a blood test to diagnose and manage athletes' concussions, but the results could vary by race and gender, researchers report.
In the new study, investigators analyzed the blood of college athletes and found that levels of certain proteins and peptides ("biomarkers") were higher in those who'd suffered a concussion than in those who were concussion-free.
The researchers also tested the blood of college athletes who had not had a recent concussion or any concussion symptoms, and who had not played contact sports within the previous 2.5 months.
In this group, female athletes had higher levels of one marker while male athletes had higher levels of two other markers. Meanwhile, black athletes had higher levels of one set of biomarkers while white athletes had higher levels of a different set.
Those results show that athletes without concussion may have differences in blood biomarkers simply due to gender and race, the study authors explained.
Another part of the study found no relationship between any of the markers and the type or severity of symptoms athletes had after a concussion.
"Our research shows that a blood test may aid concussion management, but interpreting these tests can be complicated since biomarker levels differ depending on sex and race," said study author Breton Asken, from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
"Concussion is complex, affecting people in different ways. Also, biomarkers may tell us what's happening in the brain, but they may not reflect a person's actual symptoms," Asken said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.
"Much more research is needed before a blood test can advance patient care for sports-related concussion," he added.
The study was published online Nov. 7 in the journal Neurology.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on sports-related concussions.