Traumatic brain injury in young rats leads to progressive behavioral deficits coincident with altered tissue properties in adulthood

J Neurotrauma. 2012 Jul 20;29(11):2060-74. doi: 10.1089/neu.2011.1883.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects many infants and children, and results in enduring motor and cognitive impairments with accompanying changes in white matter tracts, yet few experimental studies in rodent juvenile models of TBI (jTBI) have examined the timeline and nature of these deficits, histologically and functionally. We used a single controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury to the parietal cortex of rats at post-natal day (P) 17 to evaluate behavioral alterations, injury volume, and morphological and molecular changes in gray and white matter, with accompanying measures of electrophysiological function. At 60 days post-injury (dpi), we found that jTBI animals displayed behavioral deficits in foot-fault and rotarod tests, along with a left turn bias throughout their early developmental stages and into adulthood. In addition, anxiety-like behaviors on the zero maze emerged in jTBI animals at 60 dpi. The final lesion constituted only ∼3% of brain volume, and morphological tissue changes were evaluated using MRI, as well as immunohistochemistry for neuronal nuclei (NeuN), myelin basic protein (MBP), neurofilament-200 (NF200), and oligodendrocytes (CNPase). White matter morphological changes were associated with a global increase in MBP immunostaining and reduced compound action potential amplitudes at 60 dpi. These results suggest that brain injury early in life can induce long-term white matter dysfunction, occurring in parallel with the delayed development and persistence of behavioral deficits, thus modeling clinical and longitudinal TBI observations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electrophysiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Mental Disorders / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley