Rapid amyloid-β oligomer and protofibril accumulation in traumatic brain injury.
Deposition of amyloid-β (Aβ) is central to Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis and associated with progressive neurodegeneration in traumatic brain injury (TBI). We analyzed predisposing factors for Aβ deposition including monomeric Aβ40, Aβ42 and Aβ oligomers/protofibrils, Aβ species with pronounced neurotoxic properties, following human TBI. Highly selective ELISAs were used to analyze N-terminally intact and truncated Aβ40 and Aβ42, as well as Aβ oligomers/protofibrils, in human brain tissue, surgically resected from severe TBI patients (n = 12; mean age 49.5 ± 19 years) due to life-threatening brain swelling/hemorrhage within one week post-injury. The TBI tissues were compared to post-mortem AD brains (n = 5), to post-mortem tissue of neurologically intact (NI) subjects (n = 4) and to cortical biopsies obtained at surgery for idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus patients (iNPH; n = 4). The levels of Aβ40 and Aβ42 were not elevated by TBI. The levels of Aβ oligomers/protofibrils in TBI were similar to those in the significantly older AD patients and increased compared to NI and iNPH controls (P < 0.05). Moreover, TBI patients carrying the AD risk genotype Apolipoprotein E epsilon3/4 (APOE ε3/4; n = 4) had increased levels of Aβ oligomers/protofibrils (P < 0.05) and of both N-terminally intact and truncated Aβ42 (P < 0.05) compared to APOE ε3/4-negative TBI patients (n = 8). Neuropathological analysis showed insoluble Aβ aggregates (commonly referred to as Aβ plaques) in three TBI patients, all of whom were APOE ε3/4 carriers. We conclude that soluble intermediary Aβ aggregates form rapidly after TBI, especially among APOE ε3/4 carriers. Further research is needed to determine whether these aggregates aggravate the clinical short- and long-term outcome in TBI.