Emerging evidence suggests that mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) resulting from blast exposure may contribute to the occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related affective sequelae, such as anxiety and depression. Many studies have used survey techniques to describe blast exposure leading to comorbid mTBI and related persistent postconcussive symptoms (PPCS) with PTSD in military populations. Despite this, there is a lack of literature that examines possible biological mechanisms by which blast exposure contributes to the development of PTSD sequelae. This Mini-Review addresses the current literature on potential neurophysiological changes that may contribute to PTSD-like traits as a result of a single or multiple exposures to blast events. Evidence from clinical blast-induced mTBI populations and animal models of blast-induced mTBI was evaluated with an emphasis on behavioral and physiological symptoms similar to those seen in PTSD populations and models. From the analysis, we propose potential mechanisms that merit further investigation for better understanding of how blast exposures may produce a higher rate of comorbid PPCS, PTSD, and affective phenomena. An improved understanding of PTSD-like outcomes resulting from blast exposure will ultimately help facilitate the development of future treatments and contribute to a better understanding of PTSD sequelae that develop from physical trauma.
Keywords: fear conditioning; improvised explosive devices; mild traumatic brain injury; military; posttraumatic stress disorder; veterans.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.