Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) is one consequence of traumatic brain injury (TBI). A prominent cell signaling pathway activated in animal models of both TBI and epilepsy is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin has shown promise as a potential modulator of epileptogenesis in several animal models of epilepsy, but cellular mechanisms linking mTOR expression and epileptogenesis are unclear. In this study, the role of mTOR in modifying functional hippocampal circuit reorganization after focal TBI induced by controlled cortical impact (CCI) was investigated. Rapamycin (3 or 10 mg/kg), an inhibitor of mTOR signaling, was administered by intraperitoneal injection beginning on the day of injury and continued daily until tissue collection. Relative to controls, rapamycin treatment reduced dentate granule cell area in the hemisphere ipsilateral to the injury two weeks post-injury. Brain injury resulted in a significant increase in doublecortin immunolabeling in the dentate gyrus ipsilateral to the injury, indicating increased neurogenesis shortly after TBI. Rapamycin treatment prevented the increase in doublecortin labeling, with no overall effect on Fluoro-Jade B staining in the ipsilateral hemisphere, suggesting that rapamycin treatment reduced posttraumatic neurogenesis but did not prevent cell loss after injury. At later times post-injury (8-13 weeks), evidence of mossy fiber sprouting and increased recurrent excitation of dentate granule cells was detected, which were attenuated by rapamycin treatment. Rapamycin treatment also diminished seizure prevalence relative to vehicle-treated controls after TBI. Collectively, these results support a role for adult neurogenesis in PTE development and suggest that suppression of epileptogenesis by mTOR inhibition includes effects on post-injury neurogenesis.
Keywords: adult neurogenesis; dentate granule cell; doublecortin; epilepsy; hippocampus; mTOR; mossy fiber sprouting; trauma.