Repetitive mild traumatic brain injury affects inflammation and excitotoxic mRNA expression at acute and chronic time-points
A closed head weight drop model that replicates the biomechanics and head acceleration forces of human mTBI was used to provide an exploration of the acute and chronic outcomes following single and repeated impacts. Adult male C57BL/6J mice were randomly assigned into one of four impact groups (control; one, five and 15 impacts) which were delivered over 23 days. Outcomes were assessed 48 hours and 3 months following the final mTBI. Hippocampal spatial learning and memory assessment revealed impaired performance in the 15-impact group compared with control in the acute phase that persisted at chronic measurement. mRNA analyses were performed on brain tissue samples of the cortex and hippocampus using quantitative RT-PCR. Eight genes were assessed, namely: MAPT, GFAP, AIF1, GRIA1, CCL11, TARDBP, TNF, and NEFL, with expression changes observed based on location and follow-up duration. The cortex and hippocampus showed vulnerability to insult, displaying upregulation of key excitotoxicity and inflammation genes. Serum samples showed no difference between groups for proteins phosphorylated tau and GFAP. These data suggest that the cumulative effect of the impacts was sufficient to induce mTBI pathophysiology and clinical features. The genes investigated in this study provide opportunity for further investigation of mTBI-related neuropathology and may provide targets in the development of therapies that help mitigate the effects of mTBI.