Investigating the link between later-life brain volume and cardiorespiratory fitness after mild traumatic brain injury exposure
Karger AG, Basel
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Introduction: Evidence suggests that maintaining a higher level of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) later in life can offer some protection against brain volume loss as we age. By contrast, mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) could accelerate age-related cortical atrophy. The current study sought to examine whether variations in the CRF level modified the association between mTBI history and brain volumetric measures in a sample of older adults. Methods: Seventy-nine community-dwelling older adults (mean age 68.7 ± 4.3 years, 54.4% female) were assessed for their mTBI history: 25 participants (32%) reported sustaining at least one lifetime mTBI. Participants also underwent a CRF assessment and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to obtain global and region-of-interest volumes. Results: Analysis of covariance, controlling for age, sex, education, and apolipoprotein (APOE) ϵ4 allele carriage, revealed that participants with a history of mTBI had a significantly larger total mean grey matter volume (582.21 ± 12.46 cm) in comparison to participants with no mTBI history (571.08 ± 17.21 cm, p = 0.01 after correction for multiple comparisons). However, no differences between groups based on mTBI history were found for total white matter volume or in any other cortical or subcortical structures examined. A subsequent moderation analysis found that CRF was predominantly non-influential on the association between mTBI history and the MRI-quantified measures of brain volume. Conclusion: While unexpected, the findings suggest that a history of mTBI can lead to grey matter alterations in the ageing brain. However, concurrent variations in the CRF level did not influence the differences in brain volume found based on mTBI exposure status.