Research Topic

Traumatic Brain Injury and Autoimmune Disease

About this Research Topic

The focus of this Research Topic is on autoimmune diseases affecting the Central Nervous System and on traumatic brain injury (TBI). These disorders are of current interest because the majority of the patients suffering from them are young adults with a long life expectancy. This demographic is associated with a high economic impact, because the affected individuals often require extensive support to perform work and home responsibilities. TBI is especially of concern because of the age of the population affected and the awareness in the last two decades that soldiers and athletes in their second to fifth decade of life are at extremely high risk for such injuries. Recent studies indicate that inflammatory and autoimmune processes are likely to be major components of the disease process leading from TBI to loss of cognitive capabilities, including dementia.

Research also reveals that the progression of TBI to major cognitive impairment results from both exposure of an individual to rapid deceleration forces and to intrinsic vulnerability factors of the host to TBI and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Autoimmune diseases also result from interactions between external stressors and host vulnerability, and the nature of these vulnerability factors will be explored by examination of the medical and genomic characteristics of such patients.

The current attempts to generating super athletes or soldiers raise the question of whether increased neural processing demands, to achieve enhanced decision making capabilities, will increase the incidence of neural dysfunction and TBI or post-traumatic stress disorder cases. The concept of the “Singularity” (i.e. integration of computers with the human brain) to achieve rapid analyses of an environment and enhanced decision-making capability will be discussed. Current insights into the parts of the brain that provide the basis of human cognition will be explored in relation to autoimmune or TBI-induced changes in cognition. Research on changes in the brain modules involved in achieving high competence in motor skills will be included, as will the examination of disorders of neural module interactions seen in illnesses with autoimmune components

This Research Topic welcomes reviews, perspectives and original research articles that report on the following:

- Mechanisms involved in the development of autoimmune diseases affecting the CNS.
- The role of the microbiome in autoimmune disease development and progression.
- Inflammatory and immune regulatory factors in the development of autoimmune disease, TBI and CTE.
- Host vulnerability factors, including genomics and prior medical history, for the development of autoimmune disease, TBI and CTE.
- Co-morbidities affecting autoimmune disease of the CNS, TBI and CTE.
- The effect of stress including high op-tempo conditions and environmental factors on initiation of autoimmune disease and TBI.

We would like to acknowledge Dr. Ethan Meltzer, The University of Texas Austin and Dr. Adam Willis, The University of Michigan have acted as coordinators and have contributed to the preparation of the proposal for this Research Topic.

Cover Image: This image was designed by and used with the permission of Lynda Wannamaker.


Keywords: autoimmune disease, traumatic brain injury, immune processes, genomic factors, management


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The focus of this Research Topic is on autoimmune diseases affecting the Central Nervous System and on traumatic brain injury (TBI). These disorders are of current interest because the majority of the patients suffering from them are young adults with a long life expectancy. This demographic is associated with a high economic impact, because the affected individuals often require extensive support to perform work and home responsibilities. TBI is especially of concern because of the age of the population affected and the awareness in the last two decades that soldiers and athletes in their second to fifth decade of life are at extremely high risk for such injuries. Recent studies indicate that inflammatory and autoimmune processes are likely to be major components of the disease process leading from TBI to loss of cognitive capabilities, including dementia.

Research also reveals that the progression of TBI to major cognitive impairment results from both exposure of an individual to rapid deceleration forces and to intrinsic vulnerability factors of the host to TBI and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Autoimmune diseases also result from interactions between external stressors and host vulnerability, and the nature of these vulnerability factors will be explored by examination of the medical and genomic characteristics of such patients.

The current attempts to generating super athletes or soldiers raise the question of whether increased neural processing demands, to achieve enhanced decision making capabilities, will increase the incidence of neural dysfunction and TBI or post-traumatic stress disorder cases. The concept of the “Singularity” (i.e. integration of computers with the human brain) to achieve rapid analyses of an environment and enhanced decision-making capability will be discussed. Current insights into the parts of the brain that provide the basis of human cognition will be explored in relation to autoimmune or TBI-induced changes in cognition. Research on changes in the brain modules involved in achieving high competence in motor skills will be included, as will the examination of disorders of neural module interactions seen in illnesses with autoimmune components

This Research Topic welcomes reviews, perspectives and original research articles that report on the following:

- Mechanisms involved in the development of autoimmune diseases affecting the CNS.
- The role of the microbiome in autoimmune disease development and progression.
- Inflammatory and immune regulatory factors in the development of autoimmune disease, TBI and CTE.
- Host vulnerability factors, including genomics and prior medical history, for the development of autoimmune disease, TBI and CTE.
- Co-morbidities affecting autoimmune disease of the CNS, TBI and CTE.
- The effect of stress including high op-tempo conditions and environmental factors on initiation of autoimmune disease and TBI.

We would like to acknowledge Dr. Ethan Meltzer, The University of Texas Austin and Dr. Adam Willis, The University of Michigan have acted as coordinators and have contributed to the preparation of the proposal for this Research Topic.

Cover Image: This image was designed by and used with the permission of Lynda Wannamaker.


Keywords: autoimmune disease, traumatic brain injury, immune processes, genomic factors, management


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

25 October 2019 Abstract
13 February 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

25 October 2019 Abstract
13 February 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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