Frontiers in Neurology (2021-02-01)

Promising Biomarker Candidates for Cardioembolic Stroke Etiology. A Brief Narrative Review and Current Opinion

  • Arnold Markus,
  • Schütz Valerie,
  • Katan Mira

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12


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Determining the cause of stroke is considered one of the main objectives in evaluating a stroke patient in clinical practice. However, ischemic stroke is a heterogeneous disorder and numerous underlying disorders are implicated in its pathogenesis. Although progress has been made in identifying individual stroke etiology, in many cases underlying mechanisms still remain elusive. Since secondary prevention strategies are tailored toward individual stroke mechanisms, patients whose stroke etiology is unknown may not receive optimal preventive treatment. Cardioembolic stroke is commonly defined as cerebral vessel occlusion by distant embolization arising from thrombus formation in the heart. It accounts for the main proportion of ischemic strokes, and its share to stroke etiology is likely to rise even further in future decades. However, it can be challenging to distinguish cardioembolism from other possible etiologies. As personalized medicine advances, stroke researchers' focus is increasingly drawn to etiology-associated biomarkers. They can provide deeper insight regarding specific stroke mechanisms and can help to unravel previously undetected pathologies. Furthermore, etiology-associated biomarkers could play an important role in guiding future stroke prevention strategies. To achieve this, broad validation of promising candidate biomarkers as well as their implementation in well-designed randomized clinical trials is necessary. This review focuses on the most-promising candidates for diagnosis of cardioembolic stroke. It discusses existing evidence for possible clinical applications of these biomarkers, addresses current challenges, and outlines future perspectives.