Elevated tau in military personnel relates to chronic symptoms following traumatic brain injury

Cassandra L. Pattinson*, Pashtun Shahim, Patricia Taylor, Kerri Dunbar, Vivian A. Guedes, Vida Motamedi, Chen Lai, Christina Devoto, Jordan Peyer, Michael J. Roy, Jessica M. Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective: To understand the relationships between traumatic brain injury (TBI), blood biomarkers, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and postconcussive syndrome symptoms. Design: Cross-sectional cohort study using multivariate analyses. Participants: One hundred nine military personnel and veterans, both with and without a history of TBI. Main Measures: PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C); Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NSI); Ohio State University TBI Identification Method; Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9); Simoa-measured concentrations of tau, amyloid-beta (Aβ) 40, Aβ42, and neurofilament light (NFL). Results: Controlling for age, sex, time since last injury (TSLI), and antianxiety/depression medication use, NFL was trending toward being significantly elevated in participants who had sustained 3 or more TBIs compared with those who had sustained 1 or 2 TBIs. Within the TBI group, partial correlations that controlled for age, sex, TSLI, and antianxiety/depression medication use showed that tau concentrations were significantly correlated with greater symptom severity, as measured with the NSI, PCL, and PHQ-9. Conclusions: Elevations in tau are associated with symptom severity after TBI, while NFL levels are elevated in those with a history of repetitive TBIs and in military personnel and veterans. This study shows the utility of measuring biomarkers chronically postinjury. Furthermore, there is a critical need for studies of biomarkers longitudinally following TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-73
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • amyloid-beta
  • biomarkers
  • neurofilament light chain (NFL)
  • postconcussive symptoms
  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • service members
  • veterans


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