Motor Effects of Minimal Traumatic Brain Injury in Mice

J Mol Neurosci. 2020 Mar;70(3):365-377. doi: 10.1007/s12031-019-01422-9. Epub 2019 Dec 9.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is considered to be the leading cause of disability and death among young people. Up to 30% of mTBI patients report motor impairments, such as altered coordination and impaired balance and gait. The objective of the present study was to characterize motor performance and motor learning changes, in order to achieve a more thorough understanding of the possible motor consequences of mTBI in humans. Mice were exposed to traumatic brain injury using the weight-drop model and subsequently subjected to a battery of behavioral motor tests. Immunohistochemistry was conducted in order to evaluate neuronal survival and synaptic connectivity. TBI mice showed a different walking pattern on the Erasmus ladder task, without any significant impairment in motor performance and motor learning. In the running wheels, mTBI mice showed reduced activity during the second dark phase and increased activity during the second light phase compared to the control mice. There was no difference in the sum of wheel revolutions throughout the experiment. On the Cat-Walk paradigm, the mice showed a wider frontal base of support post mTBI. The same mice spent a significantly greater percent of time standing on three paws post mTBI compared with controls. mTBI mice also showed a decrease in the number of neurons in the temporal cortex compared with the control group. In summary, mTBI mice suffered from mild motor impairments, minor changes in the circadian clock, and neuronal damage. A more in-depth examination of the mechanisms by which mTBI compensate for motor deficits is necessary.

Keywords: Mice; Motor activity; Neuronal survival; Traumatic brain injury; Voluntary wheel running.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / pathology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Hand Strength
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Movement*
  • Postural Balance