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Joshua W. Gatson, Cari Stebbins, Dana Mathews, Thomas S. Harris, Christopher Madden, Hunt Batjer, Ramon Diaz-Arrastia and Joseph P. Minei

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. With respect to amyloid deposition, there are no published serial data regarding the deposition rate of amyloid throughout the brain after TBI. The authors conducted serial 18F-AV-45 (florbetapir F18) positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in 2 patients with severe TBI at 1, 12, and 24 months after injury. A total of 12 brain regions were surveyed for changes in amyloid levels.

Case 1 involved a 50-year-old man who experienced a severe TBI. Compared with the 1-month time point, of the 12 brain regions that were surveyed, a decrease in amyloid (as indicated by standard uptake value ratios) was only observed in the hippocampus (−16%, left; −12%, right) and caudate nucleus (−18%, left; −18%, right), suggesting that initial amyloid accumulation in the brain was cleared between time points 1 and 12 months after injury. Compared to the scan at 1 year, a greater increase in amyloid (+15%) was observed in the right hippocampus at the 24-month time point. The patient in Case 2 was a 37-year-old man who suffered severe trauma to the head and a subsequent stroke; he had poor cognitive/functional outcomes and underwent 1.5 years of rehabilitation. Due to a large infarct area on the injured side of the brain (right side), the authors focused primarily on brain regions affected within the left hemisphere. Compared with the 1-month scan, they only found an increase in brain amyloid within the left anterior putamen (+11%) at 12 months after injury. In contrast, decreased amyloid burden was detected in the left caudate nucleus (−48%), occipital cortex (−21%), and precuneus (−19%) brain regions at the 12-month time point, which is indicative of early accumulation and subsequent clearance. In comparison with 12-month values, more clearance was observed, since a reduction in amyloid was found at 24 months after trauma within the left anterior putamen (−12%) and occipital cortex (−15%). Also, by 24 months, most of the amyloid had been cleared and the patient demonstrated improved results on the Rivermead symptom questionnaire, Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended, and Disability Rating Scale. With respect to APOE status, the patient in Case 1 had two ε3 alleles and the patient in Case 2 had one ε2 and one ε3 allele.

In comparison to the findings of the initial scan at 1 month after TBI, by 12 and 24 months after injury amyloid was cleared in some brain regions and increased in others. Serial imaging conducted here suggests that florbetapir F18 PET imaging may be useful in monitoring amyloid dynamics within specific brain regions following severe TBI and may be predictive of cognitive deficits.