Mild traumatic brain injury is a common outcome of blast exposure, and current literature indicates high rates of comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military personnel. Blast-exposed rats display PTSD-like behavior, suggesting relationships may exist between PTSD and blast exposure. Other studies demonstrate the roles of stathmin and corticosterone associated with fear- and anxiety-like behaviors in rodent models. Furthermore, studies have observed ranges of responses to both physical and psychological trauma in animal populations (Elder 2012, Ritov 2016). This study exposed rodents to repeated blast overpressure (BOP) and analyzed behavioral responses and molecular variables at 3 weeks and 6 months after exposure. We applied a modified version of a previously reported behavioral profiling approach that separates "affected" and "unaffected" rats based on the presence of anxiety-like behaviors (Ritov, 2016). We report that "affected" 3 week animals showed higher plasma corticosterone and amygdalar stathmin levels, while "affected" 6 month animals had lower prefrontal cortex stathmin. Higher corticosterone also paralleled anxiety behavior in "affected" 3 week animals, which was not observed in 6 month animals, indicating possible negative feedback loop mechanisms. Elevated levels of amygdalar stathmin correlated with anxiety behaviors in "affected" 3 week and 6 month animals, indicating sustained molecular changes. We conclude that this unique analysis may provide more information about response to blast. This type of analysis should also be considered when treating clinical populations, since individual differences may affect behavioral and long-term outcomes. Future studies should elucidate relationships of stress and fear responses in the context of BOP.
Keywords: Anxiety; Behavior; Blast; PTSD; mTBI.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.