Kamper JE, Pop V, Fukuda AM, Ajao DO, Hartman RE, Badaut J
Exp. Neurol. 2013 Dec;250:8-19
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) refers to physical trauma to the brain that can lead to motor and cognitive dysfunctions. TBI is particularly serious in infants and young children, often leading to long-term functional impairments. Although clinical research is useful for quantifying and observing the effects of these injuries, few studies have empirically assessed the long-term effects of juvenile TBI (jTBI) on behavior and histology. After a controlled cortical impact delivered to postnatal 17day old rats, functional abilities were measured after 3, 5, and 6months using open field (activity levels), zero maze (anxiety-like behaviors), rotarod (sensorimotor abilities, coordination, and balance), and water maze (spatial learning and memory, swim speed, turn bias). Sensorimotor function was impaired for up to 6months in jTBI animals, which showed no improvement from repeated test exposure. Although spatial learning was not impaired, spatial memory deficits were observed in jTBI animals starting at 3months after injury. Magnetic resonance imaging and histological data revealed that the effects of jTBI were evolving for up to 6months post-injury, with reduced cortical thickness, decreased corpus callosum area and CA1 neuronal cell death in jTBI animals distant to the impact site. These findings suggest that this model of jTBI produces long-term impairments comparable to those reported clinically. Although some deficits were stable over time, the variable nature of other deficits (e.g., memory) as well as changing properties of the lesion itself, suggest that the effects of a single jTBI produce a chronic brain disorder with long-term complications.