"Findings of MTBI bear a striking resemblance to those seen in early Alzheimer's dementia," said the study's lead author, Saeed Fakhran, M.D., assistant professor of radiology in the Division of Neuroradiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Additional research may help further elucidate a link between these two disease processes."
MTBI, or concussion, affects more than 1.7 million people in the United States annually. Despite the name, these injuries are by no means mild, with approximately 15 percent of concussion patients suffering persistent neurological symptoms.
"Sleep-wake disturbances are among the earliest findings of Alzheimer's patients, and are also seen in a subset of MTBI patients," Dr. Fakhran said. "Furthermore, after concussion, many patients have difficulty filtering out white noise and concentrating on the important sounds, making it hard for them to understand the world around them. Hearing problems are not only an independent risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease, but the same type of hearing problem seen in MTBI patients has been found to predict which patients with memory problems will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease."
For the study, Dr. Fakhran and colleagues set out to determine if there was a relationship between white matter injury patterns and severity of post-concussion symptoms in MTBI patients with normal findings on conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams. The researchers studied data from imaging exams performed on 64 MTBI patients and 15 control patients, using an advanced MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging, which identifies microscopic changes in the brain's white matter.
The brain's white matter is composed of millions of nerve fibers called axons that act like communication cables connecting various regions of the brain. Diffusion tensor imaging produces a measurement, called fractional anisotropy, of the movement of water molecules along axons. In healthy white matter, the direction of water movement is fairly uniform and measures high in fractional anisotropy. When water movement is more random, fractional anisotropy values decrease.
Of the MTBI patients, 42 (65.6 percent) were men, and the mean age was 17. Sports injury was the reason for concussion in two-thirds of the patients. All patients underwent neurocognitive evaluation with Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT). The researchers analyzed correlation between fractional anisotropy values, the ImPACT total symptom score, and findings of sleep-wake disturbances.
Sleep-wake disturbances are among the most disabling post-concussive symptoms, directly decreasing quality of life and productivity and magnifying post-concussion memory and social dysfunction.
The results showed a significant correlation between high ImPACT total symptom score and reduced fractional anisotropy at the gray-white junction, most prominently in the auditory cortex. Significantly decreased fractional anisotropy was found in patients with sleep-wake disturbances in the parahippocampal gyri relative to patients without sleep-wake disturbances.
"When we sleep, the brain organizes our experiences into memories, storing them so that we can later find them," Dr. Fakhran said. "The parahippocampus is important for this process, and involvement of the parahippocampus may, in part, explain the memory problems that occur in many patients after concussion."
According to Dr. Fakhran, the results suggest that the true problem facing concussion patients may not be the injury itself, but rather the brain's response to that injury.
"Traditionally, it has been believed that patients with MTBI have symptoms because of abnormalities secondary to direct injury," he said. "Simply put, they hit their head, damaged their brain at the point of trauma and thus have symptoms from that direct damage. Our preliminary findings suggest that the initial traumatic event that caused the concussion acts as a trigger for a sequence of degenerative changes in the brain that results in patient symptoms and that may be potentially prevented. Furthermore, these neurodegenerative changes are very similar to those seen in early Alzheimer's dementia."
The researchers hope that these findings may lead to improved treatments in the future.
"The first step in developing a treatment for any disease is understanding what causes it," Dr. Fakhran said. "If we can prove a link, or even a common pathway, between MTBI and Alzheimer's, this could potentially lead to treatment strategies that would be potentially efficacious in treating both diseases."
"Symptomatic White Matter Changes in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Resemble Pathologic Features of Early Alzheimer's Dementia." Collaborating with Dr. Fakhran were Karl Yaeger, M.D., and Lea Alhilali, M.D.
Radiology is edited by Herbert Y. Kressel, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., and owned and published by the Radiological Society of North America, Inc.
RSNA is an association of more than 51,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists promoting excellence in patient care and health care delivery through education, research and technologic innovation. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)
For patient-friendly information on MRI, visit RadiologyInfo.org.
Linda Brooks | EurekAlert!
NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
High speed video recording precisely measures blood cell velocity
15.11.2017 | ITMO University
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses