Volumetric and shape analyses of subcortical structures in United States service members with mild traumatic brain injury

Tate DF, Wade BS, Velez CS, Drennon AM, Bolzenius J, Gutman BA, Thompson PM, Lewis JD, Wilde EA, Bigler ED, Shenton ME, Ritter JL, York GE

J. Neurol. 2016 Jul;

PMID: 27435967


Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a significant health concern. The majority who sustain mTBI recover, although ~20 % continue to experience symptoms that can interfere with quality of life. Accordingly, there is a critical need to improve diagnosis, prognostic accuracy, and monitoring (recovery trajectory over time) of mTBI. Volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been successfully utilized to examine TBI. One promising improvement over standard volumetric approaches is to analyze high-dimensional shape characteristics of brain structures. In this study, subcortical shape and volume in 76 Service Members with mTBI was compared to 59 Service Members with orthopedic injury (OI) and 17 with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) only. FreeSurfer was used to quantify structures from T1-weighted 3 T MRI data. Radial distance (RD) and Jacobian determinant (JD) were defined vertex-wise on parametric mesh-representations of subcortical structures. Linear regression was used to model associations between morphometry (volume and shape), TBI status, and time since injury (TSI) correcting for age, sex, intracranial volume, and level of education. Volumetric data was not significantly different between the groups. JD was significantly increased in the accumbens and caudate and significantly reduced in the thalamus of mTBI participants. Additional significant associations were noted between RD of the amygdala and TSI. Positive trend-level associations between TSI and the amygdala and accumbens were observed, while a negative association was observed for third ventricle. Our findings may aid in the initial diagnosis of mTBI, provide biological targets for functional examination, and elucidate regions that may continue remodeling after injury.