Repetitive closed-head impact model of engineered rotational acceleration (CHIMERA) injury in rats increases impulsivity, decreases dopaminergic innervation in the olfactory tubercle and generates white matter inflammation, tau phosphorylation and degeneration

Exp Neurol. 2019 Jul;317:87-99. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2019.02.012. Epub 2019 Feb 26.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects at least 3 M people annually. In humans, repetitive mild TBI (rmTBI) can lead to increased impulsivity and may be associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. To better understand the relationship between repetitive TBI (rTBI), impulsivity and neuropathology, we used CHIMERA (Closed-Head Injury Model of Engineered Rotational Acceleration) to deliver five TBIs to rats, which were continuously assessed for trait impulsivity using the delay discounting task and for neuropathology at endpoint. Compared to sham controls, rats with rTBI displayed progressive impairment in impulsive choice. Histological analyses revealed reduced dopaminergic innervation from the ventral tegmental area to the olfactory tubercle, consistent with altered impulsivity neurocircuitry. Consistent with diffuse axonal injury generated by CHIMERA, white matter inflammation, tau immunoreactivity and degeneration were observed in the optic tract and corpus callosum. Finally, pronounced grey matter microgliosis was observed in the olfactory tubercle. Our results provide insight into the mechanisms by which rTBI leads to post-traumatic psychiatric-like symptoms in a novel rat TBI platform.

Keywords: CHIMERA; Corpus callosum degeneration; Impulsivity; Repetitive TBI; Reward circuitry; Tau phosphorylation; White matter inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / pathology
  • Choice Behavior
  • Corpus Callosum / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / pathology*
  • Gliosis / pathology
  • Head Injuries, Closed / pathology*
  • Head Injuries, Closed / psychology
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Male
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Olfactory Tubercle / pathology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reward
  • Tauopathies / pathology
  • White Matter / pathology*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • tau Proteins