A multimodal imaging study in US veterans of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom with and without major depression after blast-related concussion

Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, USA.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.13). 05/2010; 54 Suppl 1:S69-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.04.269
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although the exact number of affected individuals is unknown, it has been estimated that approximately 20% of U.S. veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) have experienced mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) (i.e., concussion), which is defined as a brief loss or alteration of consciousness from a blow or jolt to the head. Blast exposure is among the most common causes of concussion in OEF-OIF warriors. Although the mechanism is unknown, major depressive disorder (MDD) after head injury is common. The purpose of this study was to use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the structural and functional neural correlates of MDD in OEF-OIF combat veterans with a self-reported history of blast-related concussion. We hypothesized that subjects in the MDD group (i.e., individuals with a history of blast-related concussion who were experiencing current MDD) relative to individuals in the non-MDD group (i.e., individuals with a history of blast-related concussion but no current or lifetime history of MDD) would show amygdala hyperactivity and disruption of white matter tracts connecting prefrontal and limbic brain regions. To test these hypotheses, 11 MDD and 11 non-MDD individuals underwent DTI and performed a validated emotional face matching task during fMRI. MDD relative to non-MDD individuals showed greater activity during fear matching trials in the amygdala and other emotion processing structures, lower activity during fear matching trials in emotional control structures such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in several white matter tracts including the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). Greater depressive symptom severity correlated negatively with FA in the SLF. These results suggest a biological basis of MDD in OEF-OIF veterans who have experienced blast-related concussion, and may contribute to the development of treatments aimed at improving the clinical care of this unique population of wounded warriors.

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