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Abstract Details

Active elite rugby participation predicts alterations in right precentral cortical thickness
Aging, Dementia, Cognitive, and Behavioral Neurology
P12 - Poster Session 12 (5:30 PM-6:30 PM)
3-003
There is significant interest in the effect collision sports have on brain health. Rugby is played by millions worldwide and has high rates of player head injury. Cortical thickness is a widely applied biomarker of grey matter structure, but there is limited research into how it may be altered in active professional rugby players.
Investigate the associations between professional rugby participation and cortical thickness.

Imaging data was available for 44 professional rugby players, including 21 imaged within one week of mild-probable traumatic brain injury (sub-acute mTBI), and 47 healthy controls, including 15 non-collision-sport athletes. Whole-cortex analyses comparing cortical thickness in rugby players with controls were performed in Freesurfer. This was followed by region of interest (ROI) analyses, constrained to ROIs selected on the basis of the whole-cortex results. This entailed multi-variate linear regression models investigating the independent effects of rugby participation, sub-acute mTBI, sporting participation, as well as biomarkers of axonal injury (white matter diffusion weighted MRI and plasma neurofilament light) and neuroinflammation (plasma glial fibrillary acidic protein).

Whole-cortex analysis revealed evidence of lower cortical thickness in non-acutely injured rugby players compared to controls in a cluster centered around the right precentral region (cluster size=4878 mm2, p-value corrected for multiple comparisons=0.014). ROI analysis revealed evidence that rugby participation independently predicted lower cortical thickness in the right inferior precentral sulcus (p=0.003). Conversely, sub-acute mTBI independently predicted higher cortical thickness in the same region (p=0.015). Furthermore, there was evidence plasma glial fibrillary acidic protein was positively associated with right inferior precentral sulcus thickness in a subset of players with sub-acute mTBI (n=14, p=0.001).

In this cross-sectional study, we present evidence that active elite rugby participation predicts alterations in right precentral thickness. Larger scale longitudinal data are required to replicate these findings, and understand their long-term implications.

Authors/Disclosures
Thomas D. Parker, PhD, BMBCh, MRCP
PRESENTER
Dr. Parker has nothing to disclose.
No disclosure on file
Etienne Laverse, MBBS, BSc, MRCP (Royal Surrey Hospital) Dr. Laverse has nothing to disclose.
No disclosure on file
Neil S. Graham, MD (Imperial College London) The institution of Dr. Graham has received research support from UK National Institute for Health Research. The institution of Dr. Graham has received research support from Alzheimer's Research UK.
No disclosure on file
Henrik Zetterberg (Sahlgrenska University Hospital/Molndal) No disclosure on file
No disclosure on file
Huw R. Morris, MD, PhD Dr. Morris has received personal compensation in the range of $500-$4,999 for serving as a Consultant for Roche. Dr. Morris has received personal compensation in the range of $500-$4,999 for serving on a Scientific Advisory or Data Safety Monitoring board for Biogen. Dr. Morris has received personal compensation in the range of $50,000-$99,999 for serving as an Expert Witness for Personal injury / Negligence cases. The institution of Dr. Morris has received research support from Parkinson's UK. The institution of Dr. Morris has received research support from Michael J Fox Foundartion. The institution of Dr. Morris has received research support from Cure Parkinson's Trust. The institution of Dr. Morris has received research support from PSP Association. The institution of Dr. Morris has received research support from CBD Solutions. The institution of Dr. Morris has received research support from Drake Foundation. The institution of Dr. Morris has received research support from Medical Research Council. Dr. Morris has received intellectual property interests from a discovery or technology relating to health care. Dr. Morris has a non-compensated relationship as a Scientific Advisory Board with Cure PSP that is relevant to AAN interests or activities. Dr. Morris has a non-compensated relationship as a Scientific Advisory Board with Parkinson's UK that is relevant to AAN interests or activities.
Sharp J. David, MBBS, PhD (Imperial College London) The institution of Prof. David has received personal compensation in the range of $500-$4,999 for serving as a Consultant for Rugby Football Union. Prof. David has received personal compensation in the range of $10,000-$49,999 for serving as an officer or member of the Board of Directors for Guarantors of Brain. The institution of Prof. David has received research support from UK Dementia Research Institute. The institution of Prof. David has received research support from ADVANCE Charity. The institution of Prof. David has received research support from Action Medical Research. The institution of Prof. David has received research support from Medical Research Council UK.