Neurodegeneration and Vision Loss after Mild Blunt Trauma in the C57Bl/6 and DBA/2J Mouse

PLoS One. 2015 Jul 6;10(7):e0131921. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131921. eCollection 2015.


Damage to the eye from blast exposure can occur as a result of the overpressure air-wave (primary injury), flying debris (secondary injury), blunt force trauma (tertiary injury), and/or chemical/thermal burns (quaternary injury). In this study, we investigated damage in the contralateral eye after a blast directed at the ipsilateral eye in the C57Bl/6J and DBA/2J mouse. Assessments of ocular health (gross pathology, electroretinogram recordings, optokinetic tracking, optical coherence tomography and histology) were performed at 3, 7, 14 and 28 days post-trauma. Olfactory epithelium and optic nerves were also examined. Anterior pathologies were more common in the DBA/2J than in the C57Bl/6 and could be prevented with non-medicated viscous eye drops. Visual acuity decreased over time in both strains, but was more rapid and severe in the DBA/2J. Retinal cell death was present in approximately 10% of the retina at 7 and 28 days post-blast in both strains. Approximately 60% of the cell death occurred in photoreceptors. Increased oxidative stress and microglial reactivity was detected in both strains, beginning at 3 days post-injury. However, there was no sign of injury to the olfactory epithelium or optic nerve in either strain. Although our model directs an overpressure air-wave at the left eye in a restrained and otherwise protected mouse, retinal damage was detected in the contralateral eye. The lack of damage to the olfactory epithelium and optic nerve, as well as the different timing of cell death as compared to the blast-exposed eye, suggests that the injuries were due to physical contact between the contralateral eye and the housing chamber of the blast device and not propagation of the blast wave through the head. Thus we describe a model of mild blunt eye trauma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blast Injuries / complications*
  • Blast Injuries / pathology
  • Blast Injuries / physiopathology
  • Blindness / etiology*
  • Blindness / pathology
  • Blindness / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroretinography
  • Explosions
  • Eye Injuries / complications*
  • Eye Injuries / pathology
  • Eye Injuries / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / etiology*
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Olfactory Mucosa / pathology
  • Olfactory Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Optic Nerve / pathology
  • Optic Nerve / physiopathology
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retina / physiopathology
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / pathology
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / physiopathology