Mild traumatic brain injuries with loss of consciousness are associated with increased inflammation and pain in military personnel

Psychiatry Research
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Kanefsky R, Motamedi V, Mithani S, Mysliwiec V, Gill JM and Pattinson CL.

Psychiatry Res. 2019 Jul 2;279:34-39. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2019.07.001.

Abstract

Mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) are a pervasive concern for military personnel. Determining the impact of injury severity, including loss of consciousness (LOC) may provide important insights into the risk of psychological symptoms and inflammation commonly witnessed in militarypersonnel and veterans following mTBI. US military personnel and veterans were categorized into three groups; TBI with LOC (n = 36), TBI without LOC (n = 25), Controls (n = 82). Participants reported their history of mTBI, psychological symptoms (post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and depression), health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and underwent a blood draw. ANCOVA models which controlled for insomnia status and combat exposure indicated that both mTBI groups (with/without LOC) reported significantly greater depression and PTSD symptoms compared to controls; however, they did not differ from each other. The mTBI with LOC did report greater pain than both controls and mTBI without LOC. The TBI with LOC group also had significantly elevated IL-6 concentrations than both TBI without LOC and control groups. Within the mTBI groups, increased TNFα concentrations were associated with greater PTSD symptoms. These findings indicate that sustaining an mTBI, with or without LOC is detrimental for psychological wellbeing. However, LOC may be involved in perceptions of pain and concentrations of IL-6.