Sports-Related Concussion Results in Differential Expression of Nuclear Factor-κB Pathway Genes in Peripheral Blood During the Acute and Subacute Periods

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To determine changes in global gene expression in peripheral leukocytes in the acute and subacute periods following a sports-related concussion in athletes.


Samples were collected at 2 universities in Rochester, New York.


Fifteen contact sport athletes who experienced a sports-related concussion, and 16 nonconcussed teammates served as controls.


Blood samples were collected at the start of the season (baseline), within 6 hours of injury (acute), and at 7 days (subacute) postinjury. Differential gene expression was measured using the GeneChip 3' in vitro transcription Expression kit and Affymetrix microarrays, and genes with fold difference of 2 or more were identified using Partek.

Main Measures:

Whole genome differential gene expression, and cognitive and balance measures to asses for clinical symptoms pre- and postinjury.


In the concussed athletes, we observed 67 downregulated and 4 upregulated genes in the acute period and 63 downregulated and 2 upregulated genes in the subacute period compared with baseline. Of these, there were 28 genes from both time points involved in the inflammatory response. No significant differences in gene expression were detected in the control group.


Our findings suggest that recovery from sports-related concussion relates to modulation of inflammation through cytokine and chemokine gene pathways, which can contribute to future development of personalized therapeutic agents.

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