High-fidelity measures of whole-brain functional connectivity and white matter integrity mediate relationships between TBI and PTSD symptoms

Evan M Gordon, Randall S Scheibel, Laura Zambrano-Vazquez, Meilin Jia-Richards, Geoffrey J May, Eric C Meyer, Steven M Nelson. Journal of Neurotrauma, 1 Mar 2018, Vol. 35, No. 5 Read More


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) disrupts brain communication and increases risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, mechanisms by which TBI-related disruption of brain communication confers PTSD risk have not been successfully elucidated in humans. This may be in part because functional MRI (fMRI), the most common technique for measuring functional brain communication, is unreliable for characterizing individual patients. However, this unreliability can be overcome with sufficient within-individual data. Here, we examined whether relationships could be observed among TBI, structural and functional brain connectivity, and PTSD severity by collecting ∼3.5 hours of resting-state fMRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data in each of 26 United States military veterans. We observed that a TBI history was associated with decreased whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC), while the number of lifetime TBIs was associated with reduced whole-brain fractional anisotropy (FA). Both RSFC and FA explained independent variance in PTSD severity, with RSFC mediating the TBI-PTSD relationship. Finally, we showed that large amounts of per-individual data produced highly reliable RSFC measures, and that relationships among TBI, RSFC/FA, and PTSD could not be observed with typical data quantities. These results demonstrate links among TBI, brain connectivity, and PTSD severity, and illustrate the need for precise characterization of individual patients using high-data fMRI scanning.

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Posted on March 10, 2018
Posted in: Axon Injury & Repair, Publications Authors: