Published on Thu Aug 19 2021

Abnormal Neurite Density and Orientation Dispersion in Frontal Lobe Link to Elevated Hyperactive/Impulsive Behaviors in Young Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury

Cao, M., Luo, Y., Wu, Z., Wu, K., Li, X.

Traumatic brain injury is a major public health concern. A significant proportion of individuals experience post-traumatic brain injury behavioral impairments, especially in attention and inhibitory control domains. We investigated the morphometrical and microstructural alterations at chronic brain injury stage and their relationships with the functional outcomes.

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Abstract

Traumatic brain injury is a major public health concern. A significant proportion of individuals experience post-traumatic brain injury behavioral impairments, especially in attention and inhibitory control domains. Traditional diffusion-weighted MRI techniques, such as diffusion tensor imaging, have provided tools to assess white matter structural disruptions reflecting the long-term brain tissue alterations associated with traumatic brain injury. The recently developed neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging is a more advanced diffusion-weighted MRI modality, which provides more refined characterization of brain tissue microstructures by assessing the neurite orientation dispersion and neurite density properties. In this study, we investigated the morphometrical and microstructural alterations at chronic brain injury stage and their relationships with the functional outcomes. Neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging data from 44 young adults with chronic traumatic brain injury (ranging from 18 - 27 years of age; 23 males/21 females) who had no prior-traumatic brain injury history of attention deficits and/or hyperactivity and 45 group-matched normal controls (23 males /22 females) were collected. Maps of fractional anisotropy, neurite orientation dispersion index, and neurite density index were calculated. Vertex-wise and voxel-wise analyses were conducted for gray matter and white matter, respectively. Post-hoc region of interest-based analyses were also performed. Compared to the controls, the group of traumatic brain injury showed significantly increased orientation dispersion index in various gray matter regions and significantly decreased orientation dispersion index in several white matter regions. Brain-behavioral association analyses indicated that the reduced neurite density index of left precentral gyrus and the reduced orientation dispersion index of left superior longitudinal fasciculus were significantly associated with elevated hyperactive/impulsive symptoms in the patients with traumatic brain injury. These findings suggest that traumatic brain injury-induced chronic neurite orientation dispersion alterations of left superior longitudinal fasciculus and left precentral may significantly contribute to post-traumatic brain injury hyperactive/impulsive behaviors in young adults with traumatic brain injury.