Prefrontal cortex lesions and MAO-A modulate aggression in penetrating traumatic brain injury.
Pardini M., Krueger F., Hodgkinson C., Raymont V., Ferrier C., Goldman D., Strenziok M., Guida S., Grafman J.
OBJECTIVE: This study investigates the interaction between brain lesion location and monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) in the genesis of aggression in patients with penetrating traumatic brain injury (PTBI). METHODS: We enrolled 155 patients with PTBI and 42 controls drawn from the Vietnam Head Injury Study registry. Patients with PTBI were divided according to lesion localization (prefrontal cortex [PFC] vs non-PFC) and were genotyped for the MAO-A polymorphism linked to low and high transcriptional activity. Aggression was assessed with the aggression/agitation subscale of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI-a). RESULTS: Patients with the highest levels of aggression preferentially presented lesions in PFC territories. A significant interaction between MAO-A transcriptional activity and lesion localization on aggression was revealed. In the control group, carriers of the low-activity allele demonstrated higher aggression than high-activity allele carriers. In the PFC lesion group, no significant differences in aggression were observed between carriers of the 2 MAO-A alleles, whereas in the non-PFC lesion group higher aggression was observed in the high-activity allele than in the low-activity allele carriers. Higher NPI-a scores were linked to more severe childhood psychological traumatic experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology in the control and non-PFC lesion groups but not in the PFC lesion group. CONCLUSIONS: Lesion location and MAO-A genotype interact in mediating aggression in PTBI. Importantly, PFC integrity is necessary for modulation of aggressive behaviors by genetic susceptibilities and traumatic experiences. Potentially, lesion localization and MAO-A genotype data could be combined to develop risk-stratification algorithms and individualized treatments for aggression in PTBI.