In situ detection of inflammatory mediators in post mortem human brain tissue after traumatic injury

J Neurotrauma. 2010 Mar;27(3):497-507. doi: 10.1089/neu.2009.1120.


Little is known about the molecular events following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in humans and to date there are no efficient therapies for the treatment of patients. In this study, the first of its kind in human tissue, a total of 21 post mortem trauma brain samples were analyzed. The inflammatory response within the brain tissue was explored by measuring the expression of various inflammatory cytokines at the mRNA and protein levels. These mediators were interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interferon (IFN)-gamma, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). This study shows for the first time in human brain tissue that 1) pro-inflammatory mediator protein levels are significantly increased in situ following acute brain injury while anti-inflammatory cytokines protein levels remain unchanged; 2) the cerebral inflammatory response begins within minutes of acute TBI, much earlier than previously thought; 3) IL-6, IL-8, TNF-alpha, and IL-1beta mRNA levels are significantly increased following injury; 4) the rise in cytokine protein level coincides with increased levels of their mRNAs suggesting that traumatic injury elicits an immediate cerebral inflammatory response. Altogether these data confirm and extend previous observations on the release of cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluid of severe TBI patients. Finally, this study highlights the need to characterize the cell source of cytokines and elucidate their mode of action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / immunology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / immunology*
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Diagnosis
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Encephalitis / metabolism*
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / analysis
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / genetics
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / analysis
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Interferon-gamma / analysis
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukins / analysis
  • Interleukins / genetics
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor