Tau is elevated in pediatric patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Amy E. Lee, Poornima Pandiyan, Ming Mei Liu, Monica A. Williams, Allen D. Everett, Gregory P. Mueller, Michael Craig Morriss, Lakshmi Raman, Deborah Carlson, Joshua W. Gatson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Neurologic injury is a known and feared complication of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Neurologic biomarkers may have a role in assisting in early identification of such. Axonal biomarker tau has not been investigated in the pediatric ECMO population. The objective of this study is to evaluate plasma levels of tau in pediatric patients supported with ECMO. Eighteen patients requiring ECMO support in a quaternary pediatric intensive care unit at a university-affiliated children's hospital from October 2015 to February 2017 were enrolled. Patients undergoing extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation or recent history of bypass were excluded. Plasma tau was measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Neuroimaging was reviewed for acute neurologic injury, and tau levels were analyzed to assess for correlation. Tau was significantly higher in ECMO patients than in control subjects. Sixty-one percent of subjects had evidence of acute brain injury on neuroimaging, but tau level did not correlate with injury. Subjects with multifocal injury all experienced infarction and had significantly higher tau levels on ECMO day 3 than patients with isolated injury. In addition, peak tau levels of neuro-injured subjects were compared with controls and noninjured ECMO subjects using receiver operating curve analysis. This study demonstrates preliminary evidence of axonal injury in pediatric ECMO patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-96
Number of pages6
JournalASAIO Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • pediatrics
  • tau protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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