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Neurol Genet. 2017 Sep 27;3(5):e186. doi: 10.1212/NXG.0000000000000186. eCollection 2017 Oct.

Moderate blast exposure alters gene expression and levels of amyloid precursor protein.

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Intramural Research Program, CNRM Co Director Biomarkers Core, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (J.G.) and National Institute of Nursing Research (A.C., N.O., L.A., V.M., H.-S.K., S.Y.), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda; Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (K.C.D., M.L., A.Y.), Silver Spring; Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (W.C.), Fort Detrick; and Naval Medical Research Center (P.W., S.A.), Silver Spring, MD.



To explore gene expression after moderate blast exposure (vs baseline) and proteomic changes after moderate- (vs low-) blast exposure.


Military personnel (N = 69) donated blood for quantification of protein level, and peak pressure exposures were detected by helmet sensors before and during a blast training program (10 days total). On day 7, some participants (n = 29) sustained a moderate blast (mean peak pressure = 7.9 psi) and were matched to participants with no/low-blast exposure during the training (n = 40). PAXgene tubes were collected from one training site at baseline and day 10; RNA-sequencing day 10 expression was compared with each participant's own baseline samples to identify genes and pathways differentially expressed in moderate blast-exposed participants. Changes in amyloid precursor protein (APP) from baseline to the day of blast and following 2 days were evaluated. Symptoms were assessed using a self-reported form.


We identified 1,803 differentially expressed genes after moderate blast exposure; the most altered network was APP. Significantly reduced levels of peripheral APP were detected the day after the moderate blast exposure and the following day. Protein concentrations correlated with the magnitude of the moderate blast exposure on days 8 and 9. APP concentrations returned to baseline levels 3 days following the blast, likely due to increases in the genetic expression of APP. Onset of concentration problems and headaches occurred after moderate blast.


Moderate blast exposure results in a signature biological profile that includes acute APP reductions, followed by genetic expression increases and normalization of APP levels; these changes likely influence neuronal recovery.

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