The pathophysiology of traumatic axonal injury (TAI) is only partially understood. In this study, we investigated the inflammatory response as well as the extent of neurological deficit in a rat model of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Forty-two adult rats were subjected to moderate impact-acceleration brain injury and their brains were analyzed immunohistochemically for ICAM-1 expression and neutrophil infiltration from 1 hr up to 14 days after trauma. In addition, the chemotactic factors MIP-2 and MCP-1 were measured in brain homogenates by ELISA. For evaluating the neurological deficit, three sensorimotor tests were applied for the first time in this model. In the first 24 hr after trauma, the number of ICAM-1 positive vessels increased up to 4-fold in cortical and subcortical regions compared with sham operated controls (P < 0.05). Maximal ICAM-1 expression (up to 8-fold increase) was detected after 4 days (P < 0.001 vs. 24 hr), returning to control levels in all brain regions by 7 days after trauma. MCP-1 was elevated between 4 hr and 16 hr post-injury as compared with controls. In contrast, neither neutrophil infiltration nor elevation of MIP-2, both events relevant in focal brain injury, could be detected. In all neurological tests, a significant deficit was observed in traumatized rats as compared with sham operated animals from Day 1 post-injury (grasping reflex of the hindpaws: P < 0.001, vibrissae-evoked forelimb placing: P = 0.002, lateral stepping: P = 0.037). In conclusion, after moderate impact acceleration brain injury ICAM-1 upregulation has been demonstrated in the absence of neutrophil infiltration and is paralleled by a selective induction of chemokines, pointing out that individual and distinct inflammatory events occur after diffuse vs. focal TBI.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.