A unique cohort of military personnel exposed to isolated blast was studied to explore acute peripheral cytokine levels, with the aim of identifying blast-specific biomarkers. Several cytokines, including interleukin (IL) 6, IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) have been linked to pre-clinical blast exposure, but remained unstudied in clinical blast exposure. To address this gap, blood samples from 62 military personnel were obtained at baseline, and daily, during a 10-day blast-related training program; changes in the peripheral concentrations of IL-6, IL-10 and TNFα were evaluated using an ultrasensitive assay. Two groups of trainees were matched on age, duration of military service, and previous history of blast exposure(s), resulting in moderate blast cases and no/low blast controls. Blast exposures were measured using helmet sensors that determined the average peak pressure in pounds per square inch (psi). Moderate blast cases had significantly elevated concentrations of IL-6 (F1,60 = 18.81, p < 0.01) and TNFα (F1,60 = 12.03, p < 0.01) compared to no/low blast controls; levels rebounded to baseline levels the day after blast. On the day of the moderate blast exposure, the extent of the overpressure (psi) in those exposed correlated with IL-6 (r = 0.46, p < 0.05) concentrations. These findings indicate that moderate primary blast exposure results in changes, specifically acute and transient increases in peripheral inflammatory markers which may have implications for neuronal health.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)