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James D. Mills, Julian E. Bailes, Cara L. Sedney, Heather Hutchins and Barry Sears

Object

Traumatic brain injury remains the most common cause of death in persons under 45 years of age in the Western world. Recent evidence from animal studies suggests that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid (O3FA) (particularly eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) improves functional outcomes following focal neural injury. The purpose of this study is to determine the benefits of O3FA supplementation following diffuse axonal injury in rats.

Methods

Forty adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were used. Three groups of 10 rats were subjected to an impact acceleration injury and the remaining group underwent a sham-injury procedure (surgery, but no impact injury). Two of the groups subjected to the injury were supplemented with 10 or 40 mg/kg/day of O3FA; the third injured group served as an unsupplemented control group. The sham-injured rats likewise received no O3FA supplementation. Serum fatty acid levels were determined from the isolated plasma phospholipids prior to the injury and at the end of the 30 days of supplementation. After the animals had been killed, immunohistochemical analysis of brainstem white matter tracts was performed to assess the presence of β-amyloid precursor protein (APP), a marker of axonal injury. Immunohistochemical analyses of axonal injury mechanisms—including analysis for caspase-3, a marker of apoptosis; RMO-14, a marker of neurofilament compaction; and cytochrome c, a marker of mitochondrial injury—were performed.

Results

Dietary supplementation with a fish oil concentrate rich in EPA and DHA for 30 days resulted in significant increases in O3FA serum levels: 11.6% ± 4.9% over initial levels in the 10 mg/kg/day group and 30.7% ± 3.6% in the 40 mg/kg/day group. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed significantly (p < 0.05) decreased numbers of APP-positive axons in animals receiving O3FA supplementation: 7.7 ± 14.4 axons per mm2 in the 10 mg/kg/day group and 6.2 ± 11.4 axons per mm2 in the 40 mg/kg/day group, versus 182.2 ± 44.6 axons per mm2 in unsupplemented animals. Sham-injured animals had 4.1 ± 1.3 APP-positive axons per mm2. Similarly, immunohistochemical analysis of caspase-3 expression demonstrated significant (p < 0.05) reduction in animals receiving O3FA supplementation, 18.5 ± 28.3 axons per mm2 in the 10 mg/kg/day group and 13.8 ± 18.9 axons per mm2 in the 40 mg/kg/day group, versus 129.3 ± 49.1 axons per mm2 in unsupplemented animals.

Conclusions

Dietary supplementation with a fish oil concentrate rich in the O3FAs EPA and DHA increases serum levels of these same fatty acids in a dose-response effect. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation significantly reduces the number of APP-positive axons at 30 days postinjury to levels similar to those in uninjured animals. Omega-3 fatty acids are safe, affordable, and readily available worldwide to potentially reduce the burden of traumatic brain injury.

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W. Bryan Wilent, Michael Y. Oh, Catherine Buetefisch, Julian E. Bailes, Diane Cantella, Cindy Angle and Donald M. Whiting

Major contributions to the understanding of human brain function have come from detailed clinical reports of responses evoked by electrical stimulation and specific brain regions during neurosurgical procedures in awake humans. In this study, microstimulation evoked responses and extracellular unit recordings were obtained intraoperatively in 3 awake patients undergoing bilateral implantation of deep brain stimulation electrodes in the lateral hypothalamus. The microstimulation evoked responses exhibited a clear anatomical distribution. Anxiety was most reliably evoked by stimulation directed ventromedially within or adjacent to the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, nausea was most reliably evoked by stimulation directed at the center of the lateral hypothalamus, and paresthesias were most reliably evoked by stimulation at the border of the lateral hypothalamus and basal nuclei. Regarding the unit recordings, the firing rates of individual neurons did not have an anatomical distribution, but a small subpopulation of neurons located at the border of the lateral hypothalamus and basal nuclei exhibited a fast rhythmically bursting behavior with an intraburst frequency of 200–400 Hz and an interburst frequency of 10–20 Hz. Based on animal studies, the lateral hypothalamic area and surrounding hypothalamic nuclei are putatively involved with a variety of physiological, behavioral, and sensory functions. The lateral hypothalamus is situated to play a dynamic and complex role in human behavior and this report further shows that to be true. In addition, this report should serve as a valuable resource for future intracranial work in which accurate targeting within this region is required.

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Bennet Omalu, Jennifer L. Hammers, Julian Bailes, Ronald L. Hamilton, M. Ilyas Kamboh, Garrett Webster and Robert P. Fitzsimmons

Following his discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in football players in 2002, Dr. Bennet Omalu hypothesized that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans may belong to the CTE spectrum of diseases. The CTE surveillance at the Brain Injury Research Institute was therefore expanded to include deceased military veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The authors report the case of a 27-year-old United States Marine Corps (USMC) Iraqi war veteran, an amphibious assault vehicle crewman, who committed suicide by hanging after two deployments to Fallujah and Ramadi. He experienced combat and was exposed to mortar blasts and improvised explosive device blasts less than 50 m away. Following his second deployment he developed a progressive history of cognitive impairment, impaired memory, behavioral and mood disorders, and alcohol abuse. Neuropsychiatric assessment revealed a diagnosis of PTSD with hyperarousal (irritability and insomnia) and numbing. He committed suicide approximately 8 months after his honorable discharge from the USMC. His brain at autopsy appeared grossly unremarkable except for congestive brain swelling. There was no atrophy or remote focal traumatic brain injury such as contusional necrosis or hemorrhage. Histochemical and immunohistochemical brain tissue analysis revealed CTE changes comprising multifocal, neocortical, and subcortical neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic threads (ranging from none, to sparse, to frequent) with the skip phenomenon, accentuated in the depths of sulci and in the frontal cortex. The subcortical white matter showed mild rarefaction, sparse perivascular and neuropil infiltration by histiocytes, and mild fibrillary astrogliosis. Apolipoprotein E genotype was 3/4. The authors report this case as a sentinel case of CTE in an Iraqi war veteran diagnosed with PTSD to possibly stimulate new lines of thought and research in the possible pathoetiology and pathogenesis of PTSD in military veterans as part of the CTE spectrum of diseases, and as chronic sequelae and outcomes of repetitive traumatic brain injuries.

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Ryan C. Turner, Zachary J. Naser, Julian E. Bailes, David W. Smith, Joseph A. Fisher and Charles L. Rosen

Object

Helmets successfully prevent most cranial fractures and skull traumas, but traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions continue to occur with frightening frequency despite the widespread use of helmets on the athletic field and battlefield. Protection against such injury is needed. The object of this study was to determine if slosh mitigation reduces neural degeneration, gliosis, and neuroinflammation.

Methods

Two groups of 10 adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to impact-acceleration TBI. One group of animals was fitted with a collar inducing internal jugular vein (IJV) compression prior to injury, whereas the second group received no such collar prior to injury. All rats were killed 7 days postinjury, and the brains were fixed and embedded in paraffin. Tissue sections were processed and stained for markers of neural degeneration (Fluoro-Jade B), gliosis (glial fibrillary acidic protein), and neuroinflammation (ionized calcium binding adapter molecule 1).

Results

Compared with the controls, animals that had undergone IJV compression had a 48.7%–59.1% reduction in degenerative neurons, a 36.8%–45.7% decrease in reactive astrocytes, and a 44.1%–65.3% reduction in microglial activation.

Conclusions

The authors concluded that IJV compression, a form of slosh mitigation, markedly reduces markers of neurological injury in a common model of TBI. Based on findings in this and other studies, slosh mitigation may have potential for preventing TBI in the clinical population.

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Matthew L. Dashnaw, Anthony L. Petraglia and Julian E. Bailes

There has been a growing interest in the diagnosis and management of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), or concussion. Repetitive concussion and subconcussion have been linked to a spectrum of neurological sequelae, including postconcussion syndrome, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia pugilistica. A more common risk than chronic traumatic encephalopathy is the season-ending or career-ending effects of concussion or its mismanagement. To effectively prevent and treat the sequelae of concussion, it will be important to understand the basic processes involved. Reviewed in this paper are the forces behind the primary phase of injury in mild TBI, as well as the immediate and delayed cellular events responsible for the secondary phase of injury leading to neuronal dysfunction and possible cell death. Advanced neuroimaging sequences have recently been developed that have the potential to increase the sensitivity of standard MRI to detect both structural and functional abnormalities associated with concussion, and have provided further insight into the potential underlying pathophysiology. Also discussed are the potential long-term effects of repetitive mild TBI, particularly chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Much of the data regarding this syndrome is limited to postmortem analyses, and at present there is no animal model of chronic traumatic encephalopathy described in the literature. As this arena of TBI research continues to evolve, it will be imperative to appropriately model concussive and even subconcussive injuries in an attempt to understand, prevent, and treat the associated chronic neurodegenerative sequelae.

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Donald M. Whiting, Nestor D. Tomycz, Julian Bailes, Lilian de Jonge, Virgile Lecoultre, Bryan Wilent, Dunbar Alcindor, E. Richard Prostko, Boyle C. Cheng, Cynthia Angle, Diane Cantella, Benjamin B. Whiting, J. Scott Mizes, Kirk W. Finnis, Eric Ravussin and Michael Y. Oh

Object

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) has been suggested as a potential treatment for intractable obesity. The authors present the 2-year safety results as well as early efficacy and metabolic effects in 3 patients undergoing bilateral LHA DBS in the first study of this approach in humans.

Methods

Three patients meeting strict criteria for intractable obesity, including failed bariatric surgery, underwent bilateral implantation of LHA DBS electrodes as part of an institutional review board– and FDA-approved pilot study. The primary focus of the study was safety; however, the authors also received approval to collect data on early efficacy including weight change and energy metabolism.

Results

No serious adverse effects, including detrimental psychological consequences, were observed with continuous LHA DBS after a mean follow-up of 35 months (range 30–39 months). Three-dimensional nonlinear transformation of postoperative imaging superimposed onto brain atlas anatomy was used to confirm and study DBS contact proximity to the LHA. No significant weight loss trends were seen when DBS was programmed using standard settings derived from movement disorder DBS surgery. However, promising weight loss trends have been observed when monopolar DBS stimulation has been applied via specific contacts found to increase the resting metabolic rate measured in a respiratory chamber.

Conclusions

Deep brain stimulation of the LHA may be applied safely to humans with intractable obesity. Early evidence for some weight loss under metabolically optimized settings provides the first “proof of principle” for this novel antiobesity strategy. A larger follow-up study focused on efficacy along with a more rigorous metabolic analysis is planned to further explore the benefits and therapeutic mechanism behind this investigational therapy.

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Julian E. Bailes, Anthony L. Petraglia, Bennet I. Omalu, Eric Nauman and Thomas Talavage

Research now suggests that head impacts commonly occur during contact sports in which visible signs or symptoms of neurological dysfunction may not develop despite those impacts having the potential for neurological injury. Recent biophysics studies utilizing helmet accelerometers have indicated that athletes at the collegiate and high school levels sustain a surprisingly high number of head impacts ranging from several hundred to well over 1000 during the course of a season. The associated cumulative impact burdens over the course of a career are equally important. Clinical studies have also identified athletes with no readily observable symptoms but who exhibit functional impairment as measured by neuropsychological testing and functional MRI. Such findings have been corroborated by diffusion tensor imaging studies demonstrating axonal injury in asymptomatic athletes at the end of a season. Recent autopsy data have shown that there are subsets of athletes in contact sports who do not have a history of known or identified concussions but nonetheless have neurodegenerative pathology consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Finally, emerging laboratory data have demonstrated significant axonal injury, blood-brain barrier permeability, and evidence of neuroinflammation, all in the absence of behavioral changes. Such data suggest that subconcussive level impacts can lead to significant neurological alterations, especially if the blows are repetitive. The authors propose “subconcussion” as a significant emerging concept requiring thorough consideration of the potential role it plays in accruing sufficient anatomical and/or physiological damage in athletes and military personnel, such that the effects of these injuries are clinically expressed either contemporaneously or later in life.

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Ivan Sosa and Valter Stemberga