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Abstract #2681

The Relation between Free-Water, Atrophy and Microstructural Pathologies in Retired NFL Players A Combined Diffusion MRI and MRS study

Ofer Pasternak 1 , Robert A. Stern 2 , Michelle Y. Giwerc 1 , Charles Yergatian 1 , Sai Merugumala 1 , Huijun Liao 1 , Christine M. Baugh 2 , Carl-Fredrik Westin 1 , Martha E. Shenton 1,3 , and Alexander P. Lin 1

1 Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 2 Boston University, Boston, MA, United States, 3 VA Boston Healthcare System, Brockton, MA, United States

Recent diffusion models include a free-water compartment accounting for extracellular water molecules not bounded by tissue membranes. In order to reveal the relation between free-water volume and underlying pathologies we correlate the measure with metabolite counts that were obtained in MR spectroscopy. We tested 49 retired National Football League (NFL) players at high risk for having chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and 14 controls. We find free-water differences between the groups, and that free-water mainly correlates with NAA, suggesting sensitivity to atrophy. By covarying for NAA we find that free-water correlates with other metabolites that suggest sensitivity to neuroinflammation and gliosis.

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