White Matter Abnormalities in Veterans With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE It has been estimated that 10%-20% of U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan experienced mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), mostly secondary to blast exposure. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) may detect subtle white matter changes in both the acute and chronic stages of mild TBI and thus has the potential to detect white matter damage in patients with TBI. The authors used DTI to examine white matter integrity in a relatively large group of veterans with a history of mild TBI. METHOD DTI images from 72 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who had mild TBI were compared with DTI images from 21 veterans with no exposure to TBI during deployment. Conventional voxel-based analysis as well as a method of identifying spatially heterogeneous areas of decreased fractional anisotropy ("potholes") were used. Veterans also underwent psychiatric and neuropsychological assessments. RESULTS Voxel-based analysis did not reveal differences in DTI parameters between the veterans with mild TBI and those with no TBI. However, the veterans with mild TBI had a significantly higher number of potholes than those without TBI. The difference in the number of potholes was not influenced by age, time since trauma, a history of mild TBI unrelated to deployment, or coexisting psychopathology. The number of potholes was correlated with the severity of TBI and with performance in executive functioning tasks. CONCLUSIONS Veterans who had blast-related mild TBI showed evidence of multifocal white matter abnormalities that were associated with severity of the injury and with relevant functional measures. Overall, white matter potholes may constitute a sensitive biomarker of axonal injury that can be identified in mild TBI at acute and chronic stages of its clinical course.
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ABSTRACT: Blast-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been a common injury among returning troops due to the widespread use of improvised explosive devices in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. As most of the TBIs sustained are in the mild range, brain changes may not be detected by standard clinical imaging techniques such as CT. Furthermore, the functional significance of these types of injuries is currently being debated. However, accumulating evidence suggests that diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is sensitive to subtle white matter abnormalities and may be especially useful in detecting mild TBI (mTBI). The primary aim of this study was to use DTI to characterize the nature of white matter abnormalities following blast-related mTBI, and in particular, examine the extent to which mTBI-related white matter abnormalities are region-specific or spatially heterogeneous. In addition, we examined whether mTBI with loss of consciousness (LOC) was associated with more extensive white matter abnormality than mTBI without LOC, as well as the potential moderating effect of number of blast exposures. A second aim was to examine the relationship between white matter integrity and neurocognitive function. Finally, a third aim was to examine the contribution of PTSD symptom severity to observed white matter alterations. One hundred fourteen OEF/OIF Veterans underwent DTI and neuropsychological examination and were divided into three groups including a control group, blast-related mTBI without LOC (mTBI-LOC) group, and blast-related mTBI with LOC (mTBI + LOC) group. Hierarchical regression models were used to examine the extent to which mTBI and PTSD predicted white matter abnormalities using two approaches: 1) a region-specific analysis and 2) a measure of spatial heterogeneity. Neurocognitive composite scores were calculated for executive functions, attention, memory, and psychomotor speed. Results showed that blast-related mTBI + LOC was associated with greater odds of having spatially heterogeneous white matter abnormalities. Region-specific reduction in fractional anisotropy (FA) in the left retrolenticular part of the internal capsule was observed in the mTBI + LOC group as the number of blast exposures increased. A mediation analysis revealed that mTBI + LOC indirectly influenced verbal memory performance through its effect on white matter integrity. PTSD was not associated with spatially heterogeneous white matter abnormalities. However, there was a suggestion that at higher levels of PTSD symptom severity, LOC was associated with reduced FA in the left retrolenticular part of the internal capsule. These results support postmortem reports of diffuse axonal injury following mTBI and suggest that injuries with LOC involvement may be particularly detrimental to white matter integrity. Furthermore, these results suggest that LOC-associated white matter abnormalities in turn influence neurocognitive function.04/2015; 28. DOI:10.1016/j.nicl.2015.04.001
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ABSTRACT: An improved understanding and characterization of glial activation and its relationship with white matter injury will likely serve as a novel treatment target to curb post injury inflammation and promote axonal remyelination after brain trauma. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant public healthcare burden and a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Particularly, traumatic white matter (WM) injury or traumatic axonal injury has been reported as being associated with patients' poor outcomes. However, there is very limited data reporting the importance of glial activation after TBI and its interaction with WM injury. This article presents a systematic review of traumatic WM injury and the associated glial activation, from basic science to clinical diagnosis and prognosis, from advanced neuroimaging perspective. It concludes that there is a disconnection between WM injury research and the essential role of glia which serve to restore a healthy environment for axonal regeneration following WM injury. Particularly, there is a significant lack of non-invasive means to characterize the complex pathophysiology of WM injury and glial activation in both animal models and in humans. An improved understanding and characterization of the relationship between glia and WM injury will likely serve as a novel treatment target to curb post injury inflammation and promote axonal remyelination. GLIA 2014Glia 11/2014; 62(11). DOI:10.1002/glia.22690 · 6.03 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur from physical trauma from a wide spectrum of insults ranging from explosions to falls. The biomechanics of the trauma can vary in key features, including the rate and magnitude of the insult. Although the effect of peak injury pressure on neurological outcome has been examined in the fluid percussion injury (FPI) model, it is unknown whether differences in rate of rise of the injury waveform modify cellular and physiological changes after TBI. Using a programmable FPI device, we examined juvenile rats subjected to a constant peak pressure at two rates of injury: a standard FPI rate of rise and a faster rate of rise to the same peak pressure. Immediate postinjury assessment identified fewer seizures and relatively brief loss of consciousness after fast-rise injuries than after standard-rise injuries at similar peak pressures. Compared with rats injured at standard rise, fewer silver-stained injured neuronal profiles and degenerating hilar neurons were observed 4–6 hr after fast-rise FPI. However, 1 week postinjury, both fast- and standard-rise FPI resulted in hilar cell loss and enhanced perforant path-evoked granule cell field excitability compared with sham controls. Notably, the extent of neuronal loss and increase in dentate excitability were not different between rats injured at fast and standard rates of rise to peak pressure. Our data indicate that reduced cellular damage and improved immediate neurological outcome after fast rising primary concussive injuries mask the severity of the subsequent cellular and neurophysiological pathology and may be unreliable as a predictor of prognosis. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Journal of Neuroscience Research 10/2014; 92(10). DOI:10.1002/jnr.23401 · 2.73 Impact Factor