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Neurotrauma Biomarkers Evident after Blast Exposure without TBI Diagnosis

Service members and law enforcement personnel are routinely exposed to blast overpressure, a harmful displacement of air from explosives or weapons, during training exercises or combat. While blast exposure is associated with increased risk of brain disease or psychological disorder diagnosis later in life, personnel report symptoms that are similar traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion. Memory problems, headaches, and tinnitus (ringing of the ears) are common, but do not always meet the threshold for clinical diagnosis at the time of reporting.

Application of blood-based biomarker measurements has become increasingly useful to define effects of blast overpressure. GFAP, UCH-L1, tau, amyloid beta-40 and amyloid beta-42 have key roles as in brain injury and disease. In a recent study, levels of these proteins were measured within blood from study participants who were considered healthy and did not have a diagnosed TBI. Each of these biomarkers was increased among study participants with blast exposure. Moreover, tau and amyloid beta levels were higher among those who reported memory problems and tinnitus compared to those who did not. Measurement of blood-derived biomarkers with symptom assessment may become useful for monitoring effects of blast exposure.

This work was originally reported in the JAMA Network Open, Neurology

“Neurotrauma Biomarker Levels and Adverse Symptoms Among Military and Law Enforcement Personnel Exposed to Occupational Overpressure”

Without Diagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury


Angela M. Boutté*, PhD; Bharani Thangavelu, PhD; Jeffrey Nemes, MS; Christina R. LaValle, MS; Mike Egnoto, PhD; Walter Carr, PhD; Gary H. Kamimori, PhD

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