Objective: Patients who have experienced a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) are susceptible to symptoms of anxiety or depression. To explore the potential biomarkers for emotional disorders in mTBI patients, we analyzed the frequency domain of heart rate variability (HRV) and serum concentrations of four neurohormones. Methods: We assessed mTBI patients on their first visit and follow-up. Symptoms were evaluated by the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory, respectively. Serum levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), melatonin, cortisol, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 and HRV follow-ups were measured and compared. Results: mTBI patients were more vulnerable to symptoms of anxiety or depression than healthy controls. Reduced HRV was noted in mTBI patients compared to healthy controls. The mTBI patients demonstrated higher serum levels of ACTH, lower IGF-1 compared to healthy controls. In correlation analysis, only IGF-1 was positively correlated with HRV in mTBI patients. Both HRV and IGF-1 were correlated with symptom of depression while only HRV was correlated with symptom of anxiety in mTBI patients. Conclusions: We infer that HRV may be more significantly correlated with emotional disorders than is IGF-1 in mTBI patients. Significance: The study is relevant for specific diagnostic markers in mTBI patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1629-1638
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Autonomic nervous system (ANS)
  • Emotional disorder
  • Heart rate variability (HRV)
  • Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)
  • Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Sensory Systems


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