A Translational Study on Acute Traumatic Brain Injury: High Incidence of Epileptiform Activity on Human and Rat Electrocorticograms and Histological Correlates in Rats

Brain Sci. 2020 Aug 19;10(9):570. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10090570.


Background: In humans, early pathological activity on invasive electrocorticograms (ECoGs) and its putative association with pathomorphology in the early period of traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains obscure.

Methods: We assessed pathological activity on scalp electroencephalograms (EEGs) and ECoGs in patients with acute TBI, early electrophysiological changes after lateral fluid percussion brain injury (FPI), and electrophysiological correlates of hippocampal damage (microgliosis and neuronal loss), a week after TBI in rats.

Results: Epileptiform activity on ECoGs was evident in 86% of patients during the acute period of TBI, ECoGs being more sensitive to epileptiform and periodic discharges. A "brush-like" ECoG pattern superimposed over rhythmic delta activity and periodic discharge was described for the first time in acute TBI. In rats, FPI increased high-amplitude spike incidence in the neocortex and, most expressed, in the ipsilateral hippocampus, induced hippocampal microgliosis and neuronal loss, ipsilateral dentate gyrus being most vulnerable, a week after TBI. Epileptiform spike incidence correlated with microglial cell density and neuronal loss in the ipsilateral hippocampus.

Conclusion: Epileptiform activity is frequent in the acute period of TBI period and is associated with distant hippocampal damage on a microscopic level. This damage is probably involved in late consequences of TBI. The FPI model is suitable for exploring pathogenetic mechanisms of post-traumatic disorders.

Keywords: electrocorticograms; epileptiform discharges; hippocampus; local field potentials; microglia; neocortex; neurodegeneration; post-traumatic epilepsy; traumatic brain injury.