Characterization of a bilateral penetrating brain injury in rats and evaluation of a collagen biomaterial for potential treatment

J Neurotrauma. 2012 Jul 20;29(11):2086-102. doi: 10.1089/neu.2011.2181. Epub 2012 Jun 25.


Penetrating brain injury (PBI) encountered in both the military and civilian sectors results in high morbidity and mortality due to the absence of effective treatment options for survivors of the initial trauma. Developing therapies for such injuries requires a better understanding of the complex pathology involved when projectiles enter the skull and disrupt the brain parenchyma. This study presents a histological characterization of bilateral PBI using a relatively new injury model in the rat, and also investigates the implantation of a collagen scaffold into the PBI lesion as a potential treatment option. At 1 week post-PBI, the lesion was characterized by dense macrophage infiltration, evolving astrogliosis, hypervascularity, and an absence of viable neurons, oligodendrocytes, and myelinated axons. Histomorphometric analysis revealed that the PBI lesion volume expanded by 29% between 1 week and 5 weeks post-injury, resulting in formation of a large acellular cavity. Immunohistochemistry showed a decrease in the presence of CD68-positive macrophages from 1 to 5 weeks post-PBI as the necrotic tissue in the lesion was cleared, while persistent glial scarring remained in the form of upregulated GFAP expression surrounding the PBI cavity. Implanted type I collagen scaffolds remained intact with open pores after time periods of 1 week and 4 weeks in vivo, and were found to be sparsely infiltrated with macrophages, astrocytes, and endothelial cells. Collagen scaffolds appear to be an appropriate delivery vehicle for cellular and pharmacological therapeutic agents in future studies of PBI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / therapeutic use*
  • Collagen / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / pathology
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / surgery*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tissue Scaffolds*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Collagen