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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.

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Joshua W. Gatson, Jennifer Barillas, Linda S. Hynan, Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, Steven E. Wolf and Joseph P. Minei

Object

In previous studies of traumatic brain injury (TBI), neural biomarkers of injury correlate with injury severity and predict neurological outcome. The object of this paper was to characterize neurofilament-H (NFL-H) as a predictor of injury severity in patients who have suffered mild TBI (mTBI). Thus, the authors hypothesized that phosphorylated NFL-H (pNFL-H) levels are higher in mTBI patients than in healthy controls and identify which subjects experienced a more severe injury such as skull fractures, intracranial hemorrhaging, and/or contusions as detected by CT scans.

Methods

In this prospective clinical study, blood (8 ml) was collected from subjects (n = 34) suffering from mTBI (as defined by the American Congress of Rehabilitation and Glasgow Coma Scale scores between 13 and 15) at Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Texas, on Days 1 and 3 after injury). Additional clinical findings from the CT scans were also used to categorize the TBI patients into those with and those without clinical findings on the scans (CT+ and CTgroups, respectively). The serum levels of pNFL-H were measured using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Results

Compared with healthy controls, the mTBI patients exhibited a significant increase in the serum levels of pNFL-H on Days 1 (p = 0.00001) and 3 (p = 0.0001) after TBI. An inverse correlation was observed between pNFL-H serum levels and Glasgow Coma Scale scores, which was significant. Additionally, using receiver operating characteristic curve analysis to compare the mTBI cases with controls to determine sensitivity and specificity, an area under the curve of 100% was achieved for both (p = 0.0001 for both). pNFL-H serum levels were only significantly higher on Day 1 in mTBI patients in the CT+ group (p < 0.008) compared with the CT− group. The area under the curve (82.5%) for the CT+ group versus the CT− group was significant (p = 0.021) with a sensitivity of 87.5% and a specificity of 70%, using a cutoff of 1071 pg/ml of pNFL-H in serum.

Conclusions

This study describes the serum profile of pNFL-H in patients suffering from mTBI with and without CT findings on Days 1 and 3 after injury. These results suggest that detection of pNFL-H may be useful in determining which individuals require CT imaging to assess the severity of their injury.

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Joshua Wayne Gatson, Victoria Warren, Kareem Abdelfattah, Steven Wolf, Linda S. Hynan, Carol Moore, Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, Joseph P. Minei, Christopher Madden and Jane G. Wigginton

Object

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is known to be a risk factor for Alzheimer-like dementia. In previous studies, an increase in β-amyloid (Aβ) monomers, such as β-amyloid 42 (Aβ42), in the CSF of patients with TBI has been shown to correlate with a decrease in amyloid plaques in the brain and improved neurological outcomes. In this study, the authors hypothesized that the levels of toxic high-molecular-weight β-amyloid oligomers are increased in the brain and are detectable within the CSF of TBI patients with poor neurological outcomes.

Methods

Samples of CSF were collected from 18 patients with severe TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale Scores 3–8) and a ventriculostomy. In all cases the CSF was collected within 72 hours of injury. The CSF levels of neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and Aβ42 were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The levels of high-molecular-weight β-amyloid oligomers were measured using Western blot analysis.

Results

Patients with good outcomes showed an increase in the levels of CSF Aβ42 (p = 0.003). Those with bad outcomes exhibited an increase in CSF levels of β-amyloid oligomers (p = 0.009) and NSE (p = 0.001). In addition, the CSF oligomer levels correlated with the scores on the extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (r = −0.89, p = 0.0001), disability rating scale scores (r = 0.77, p = 0.005), CSF Aβ42 levels (r = −0.42, p = 0.12), and CSF NSE levels (r = 0.70, p = 0.004). Additionally, the receiver operating characteristic curve yielded an area under the curve for β-amyloid oligomers of 0.8750 ± 0.09.

Conclusions

Detection of β-amyloid oligomers may someday become a useful clinical tool for determining injury severity and neurological outcomes in patients with TBI.