Cognitive deficits following blast injury-induced neurotrauma: possible involvement of nitric oxide

Brain Inj. 2001 Jul;15(7):593-612. doi: 10.1080/02699050010009559.


Blast injuries, that is injuries caused by the complex pressure wave generated by some explosions, show increasing frequency throughout the world. However, whether blast injury is capable of inducing memory dysfunction has not been previously investigated. The present study examines the effects of blast injury-induced neurotrauma on memory deficit in rats. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that blast injury, stimulating nitric oxide production in the medial mesodiencephalic reticular formation and the dorsal hippocampus, both structures being involved in memory processing, may induce memory deficits. Prior to blast injury, Wistar rats were trained for an active avoidance task for 6 days. On day 6, rats that had acquired the avoidance response were subjected to whole-body blast injury, using a BT-I shock tube. Neurotrauma was confirmed by electron microscopical examination. At the completion of cognitive testing, rats were sacrificed at 3, 24 hours and 5 days after injury. The nitric oxide production in the brain structures was determined by the total nitrite/nitrate concentration, and by the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA. The rats with blast injury revealed significant deficits in performance of the active avoidance task that persisted up to 5 days post-injury. Electron microscopical findings in both brain structures showed swellings of neurons, glial reaction, myelin debris, and increased pinocytotic activity on the fifth day following trauma. In blast injured rats, there was a significant elevation in total nitrite/nitrate levels 3 and 24 hours following injury which was comparable with the changes in the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA. The results indicate that blast injury-induced neurotrauma is able to cause cognitive deficits.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Blast Injuries / complications*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / etiology*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Nitric Oxide