Reduced brain glutamine in female varsity rugby athletes after concussion and in non-concussed athletes after a season of play
Human Brain Mapping
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The purpose of this study was to use non-invasive proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to monitor changes in prefrontal white matter metabolite levels and tissue microstructure in female rugby players with and without concussion (ages 18-23, n = 64). Evaluations including clinical tests and 3 T MRI were performed at the beginning of a season (in-season) and followed up at the end of the season (off-season). Concussed athletes were additionally evaluated 24-72 hr (n = 14), three months (n = 11), and six months (n = 8) post-concussion. Reduced glutamine at 24-72 hr and three months post-concussion, and reduced glutamine/creatine at three months post-concussion were observed. In non-concussed athletes (n = 46) both glutamine and glutamine/creatine were lower in the off-season compared to in-season. Within the MRS voxel, an increase in fractional anisotropy (FA) and decrease in radial diffusivity (RD) were also observed in the non-concussed athletes, and correlated with changes in glutamine and glutamine/creatine. Decreases in glutamine and glutamine/creatine suggest reduced oxidative metabolism. Changes in FA and RD may indicate neuroinflammation or re-myelination. The observed changes did not correlate with clinical test scores suggesting these imaging metrics may be more sensitive to brain injury and could aid in assessing recovery of brain injury from concussion.