Blast traumatic brain injury and serum inflammatory cytokines: A repeated measures case-control study among U.S. military service members

Jennifer Rusiecki*, Lynn I. Levin, Li Wang, Celia Byrne, Jayasree Krishnamurthy, Ligong Chen, Zygmunt Galdzicki, Louis M. French

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: There is a paucity of human data on exposure to blast traumatic brain injury (bTBI) and the corresponding systemic cytokine immune response at later time points (i.e., months, years) post-injury. Methods: We conducted a repeated measures, case-control study, examining associations of serum levels of pro- A nd anti-inflammatory cytokines, measured both pre- A nd post-deployment with having mild and moderate/severe bTBI. Utilizing serum from the Department of Defense Serum Repository cytokines were measured via an ELISA-based array for 15 cytokines. We compared pre-vs. post-levels among mild cases, moderate/severe cases, and controls and carried out case-control comparisons, using paired t-tests and generalized linear models. Results: The average time between bTBI and post-deployment/bTBI serum among cases was 315.8 days. From pre-to post-deployment/bTBI, levels of interleukin 8 (IL-8) were decreased among both mild cases (μ =-83.43 pg/ml; s.e. = 21.66) and moderate/severe cases (μ =-107.67 pg/ml; s.e. = 28.74 pg/ml), while levels increased among controls (μ = 32.86 pg/ml; s.e. = 30.29). The same pattern occurred for matrix metallopeptidase 3 (MMP3), with levels decreasing for moderate/severe cases (μ =-3369.24 pg/ml; s.e. = 1701.68) and increasing for controls (μ = 1859.60 pg/ml; s.e. = 1737.51) from pre-to post-deployment/bTBI. Evidence was also suggestive of case-control differences, from pre-to post-deployment/bTBI for interleukin 1 alpha (IL-1α), interleukin 4 (IL-4), and interleukin 6 (IL-6) among moderate/severe cases. Conclusion: The findings of this longitudinal study indicate that in the chronic phase of bTBI, levels of IL-8 and MMP3 may be substantially lower than pre-injury. These results need confirmation in other studies, potentially those that account for treatment differences, which was not possible in our study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 13 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Microarray
  • Military
  • Operation Iraqi freedom
  • Operation enduring freedom
  • Protein
  • TBI
  • Traumatic brain injury


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