Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is one of the most common neuronal insults and can lead to long-term disabilities. mTBI occurs when the head is exposed to a rapid acceleration-deceleration movement triggering axonal injuries. Our limited understanding of the underlying pathological changes makes it difficult to predict the outcome of mTBI. In this study we used a scalable rat model for rotational acceleration TBI, previously characterized for the threshold of axonal pathology. We have analyzed whether a TBI just above the defined threshold would induce any detectable behavioral changes and/or changes in serum biomarkers. The effect of injury on sensory motor functions, memory and anxiety were assessed by beam walking, radial arms maze and elevated plus maze at 3-7 days following TBI. The only behavioral deficits found were transient impairments in working and reference memory. Blood serum was analyzed at 1, 3, and 14 days after injury for changes in selected protein biomarkers. Serum levels of neurofilament heavy chain and Tau, as well as S100B and myelin basic protein showed significant increases in the injured animals at all time points. No signs of macroscopic injuries such as intracerebral hematomas or contusions were found. Amyloid precursor protein immunostaining indicated axonal injuries at all time points analyzed. In summary, this model mimics some of the key symptoms of mTBI, such as transient memory impairment, which is paralleled by an increase in serum biomarkers. Our findings suggest that serum biomarkers may be used to detect mTBI. The model provides a suitable foundation for further investigation of the underlying pathology of mTBI.
Keywords: APP; DAI; NF-H; S100B; behavioral outcome; brain trauma model; mild traumatic brain injury; serum biomarker.