Tau and beta-amyloid deposition, structural integrity, and cognitive function following traumatic brain injury in Australian war veterans
AffiliationFlorey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2020-11-27. This item is currently available to University of Melbourne staff and students only, login required.
© 2018 Dr Tia Cummins
Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI), has been diagnosed in over 355,000 US military service personnel since 2000. Epidemiological research indicates that veterans with TBI are two-to-four times more likely to develop dementia than controls; however, mechanisms contributing to this relationship are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate if Vietnam war veterans with a TBI show evidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathological markers, as assessed by A-amyloid, tau and glucose metabolism using PET, as well as structural MRI, including diffusion tensor imaging, and neuropsychological testing. Methods: Sixty-nine male veterans - 40 with TBI (aged 68.0±2.5 years) and 29 controls (aged 70.1±5.3 years) - underwent A-amyloid (18F-Florbetaben), tau (18F-AV1451) and 18F-FDG PET, MRI, psychiatric and neuropsychological assessment. The TBI cohort included 15 participants with mild, 16 with moderate, and 9 with severe injury. Fractional Anisotropy (FA) was employed as a measure of white matter tissue integrity. PET Standardized Uptake Value Ratios (SUVR) were calculated using the cerebellar cortex as reference region. Analyses were adjusted for IQ, age, ApoE status and psychiatric comorbidities. Results: Veterans with moderate-to-severe TBI performed significantly worse than controls on composite measures of memory and learning (M = -0.55 0.69, t(67) = 2.86, p=0.006, d=0.70) and attention and processing speed (M = -0.71 1.08, t(52) = 2.53, p=0.014, d=0.69). The moderate-to-severe TBI group had significantly lower FA than controls in the genu (F(3,36)=8.81, p<0.05, partial 2 = 0.17), and body (F(3,36)=4.39, p <0.05, partial 2=0.14) of the corpus callosum, as well as in global white matter (F(3,36)=5.35, p <0.05, partial 2=0.13). There were no significant differences in 18F-Florbetaben or 18F-AV1451 uptake amongst the groups, however the moderate-to-severe TBI group had significantly lower 18F-FDG retention than controls in the mesial temporal region (F(8,44) = 2.21, p <0.05, partial 2 = 0.13). No differences were found between the mTBI group and controls on any of the outcome measures. Conclusions: These findings indicate that moderate-to-severe TBI, but not mTBI, is associated with later-life cognitive deficits, and diminished global white matter integrity, specifically in the corpus callosum. However, these deficits are not associated with AD pathology. These results are consistent with current evidence of white matter axonal damage as the primary source of cognitive impairment in TBI, and are not reflective of a neurodegenerative process.
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