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Accelerated Brain Aging in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Longitudinal Pattern Recognition with White Matter Integrity
Journal of Neurotrauma  (IF5.269),  Pub Date : 2021-08-23, DOI: 10.1089/neu.2020.7551
Shuoqiu Gan, Wen Shi, Shan Wang, Yingxiang Sun, Bo Yin, Guanghui Bai, Xiaoyan Jia, Chuanzhu Sun, Xuan Niu, Zhuonan Wang, Xiaofan Jiang, Jun Liu, Ming Zhang, Lijun Bai

Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) initiating long-term effects on white matter integrity resembles brain-aging changes, implying an aging process accelerated by mTBI. This longitudinal study aims to investigate the mTBI-induced acceleration of the brain-aging process by developing a neuroimaging model to predict brain age. The brain-age prediction model was defined using relevance vector regression based on fractional anisotropy from diffusion tensor imaging of 523 healthy individuals. The model was used to estimate the brain-predicted age difference (brain-PAD) between the chronological and estimated brain age in 116 acute mTBI patients and 63 healthy controls. Fifty patients were followed for 6 ∼ 12 months to evaluate the longitudinal changes in brain-PAD. We investigated whether brain-PAD was greater in patients of older age, post-concussion complaints, and apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 genotype, and whether it had the potential to predict neuropsychological outcomes. The brain-age prediction model predicted brain age accurately (r = 0.96). The brains of mTBI patients in the acute phase were estimated to be “older,” with greater brain-PAD (2.59 ± 5.97 years) than the healthy controls (0.12 ± 3.19 years) (p < 0.05), and remained stable 6–12 month post-injury (2.50 ± 4.54 years). Patients who were older or who had post-concussion complaints, rather than APOE ɛ4 genotype, had greater brain-PADs (p < 0.001, p = 0.024). Additionally, brain-PAD in the acute phase predicted information processing speed at the 6 ∼ 12 month follow-up (r = -0.36, p = 0.01). In conclusion, mTBI accelerates the brain-aging process, and brain-PAD may be capable of evaluating aging-associated issues post-injury, such as increased risks of neurodegeneration.