Title

Early-onset dementia in war veterans: Brain polypathology and clinicopathologic complexity

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2-1-2020

Journal

Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology

Volume

79

Issue

2

DOI

10.1093/jnen/nlz122

Keywords

Brain co-occurring pathologies; Chronic stress; Combat-TBI; Histologic distribution; Short- and long-terms neuropsychiatric manifestations in veterans; War settings

Abstract

The neuropathology associated with cognitive decline in military personnel exposed to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and chronic stress is incompletely understood. Few studies have examined clinicopathologic correlations between phosphorylated-tau neurofibrillary tangles, β-amyloid neuritic plaques, neuroinflammation, or white matter (WM) lesions, and neuropsychiatric disorders in veterans. We describe clinicopathologic findings in 4 military veterans with early-onset dementia (EOD) who had varying histories of blunt- and blast-TBI, cognitive decline, behavioral abnormalities, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, and suicide. We found that pathologic lesions in these military-EOD cases could not be categorized as classic Alzheimer's disease (AD), chronic traumatic encephalopathy, traumatic axonal injury, or other wellcharacterized clinicopathologic entities. Rather, we observed a mixture of polypathology with unusual patterns compared with pathologies found in AD or other dementias. Also, ultrahigh resolution ex vivo MRI in 2 of these 4 brains revealed unusual patterns of periventricular WM injury. These findings suggest that military- EOD cases are associated with atypical combinations of brain lesions and distribution rarely seen in nonmilitary populations. Future prospective studies that acquire neuropsychiatric data before and after deployments, as well as genetic and environmental exposure data, are needed to further elucidate clinicopathologic correlations in military-EOD.

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