Patients enrolled in clinical trials for traumatic brain injury (TBI) may present with heterogeneous features over a range of injury severity, such as diffuse axonal injury, ischemia, edema, hemorrhage, oxidative damage, mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction, excitotoxicity, inflammation, and other pathophysiological processes. To determine whether combination therapies might be more effective than monotherapy at attenuating moderate TBI or promoting recovery, the National Institutes of Health funded six preclinical studies in adult and immature male rats to evaluate promising acute treatments alone and in combination. Each of the studies had a solid rationale for its approach based on previous research, but only one reported significant improvements in long-term outcomes across a battery of behavioral tests. Four studies had equivocal results because of a lack of sensitivity of the outcome assessments. One study demonstrated worse results with the combination in comparison with monotherapies. While specific research findings are reported elsewhere, this article provides an overview of the study designs, insights, and recommendations for future research aimed at therapy development for TBI.
Keywords: pharmacological interventions; preclinical therapeutic development; treatments.