Post-acute pathological changes in the thalamus and internal capsule in aged mice following controlled cortical impact injury: a magnetic resonance imaging, iron histochemical, and glial immunohistochemical study

Neurosci Lett. 2009 Mar 13;452(2):204-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.01.049. Epub 2009 Jan 23.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of neurological disability across all ages, but the elderly are particularly vulnerable and have a worse prognosis than younger individuals. To advance the understanding of long-term pathogenesis induced by TBI in the elderly, aged mice (21 -- 24 months) were given a controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury to the sensorimotor cortex, and their brains were analyzed by MRI and histopathology at 1 and 2 months after CCI injury, a post-acute period. A T2 hypointensity was observed in the ipsilateral thalamus but not in the contralateral thalamus or in the thalamus of sham operated, control mice. The hypointensity was co-localized with increased histochemical staining of iron, a paramagnetic substance that causes a shortening of the T2 relaxation time. Since iron catalyzes reactions that lead to toxic free radicals, the deposition of iron in the thalamus raises the possibility that it promotes pathogenesis following TBI. Astrocyte gliosis and microgliosis were also observed in the ipsilateral thalamus in the post-acute period. The ipsilateral internal capsule displayed a trend for a T2 hypointensity, however, unlike the thalamus it did not have an increase of iron or GFAP staining, but it did have evidence of microgliosis. In summary, areas of T2 hypointensity were revealed in both the thalamus and internal capsule during the post-acute period following CCI injury, but the underlying pathology appeared to be distinct between these regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / pathology
  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / injuries*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Gliosis / etiology
  • Gliosis / pathology*
  • Gliosis / physiopathology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Internal Capsule / metabolism
  • Internal Capsule / pathology*
  • Internal Capsule / physiopathology
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / metabolism
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / pathology*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Degeneration / etiology
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Thalamus / metabolism
  • Thalamus / pathology*
  • Thalamus / physiopathology


  • Free Radicals
  • Iron