Behavioral consequences of minimal traumatic brain injury in mice

Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2011;71(1):36-45.


Victims of minor traumatic brain injury (mTBI), who show no clear morphological brain defects, frequently manifest cognitive, behavioral and emotional difficulties that can be long-lasting. In this paper we present a modified weight drop model used to deliver a closed head minimal traumatic brain injury to mice, which closely mimics real-life injuries and the symptoms observed in mTBI patients. Our choice of impact force does not produce structural damage to the brain and its surrounding tissue (as examined by MRI), any skull fracture, no edema and no evident damage to the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Moreover, our mTBI mice show no abnormal behavior on recovering from the weight drop, or any change in other brain functions such as reflexes, balance, exploration, strength, locomotor activity and swim speed. Since our mTBI model does not produce neurological, motor or sensory damage to the mice, it allows the direct evaluation of mTBI sequelae on the mice behavior and cognitive abilities. Using a variety of cognitive and behavioral tests (Morris water maze, staircase test, passive avoidance test, water T-maze, hot palate, elevated plus maze and forced swimming test) we assessed the short- and long-term sequelae induced by our model. Our results indicate that our closed head mTBI cause profound and long-lasting, irreversible learning and memory impairments, accompanied by a depressive-like behavior in mice that are evident even 90 days post injury. Our results indicate that the closed head mTBI model presented here may be useful in the development of novel therapeutic approaches, such as neuroprotective agents, for mTBI.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Swimming / psychology
  • Time Factors