Meningeal lymphatic dysfunction exacerbates traumatic brain injury pathogenesis

Nat Commun. 2020 Sep 10;11(1):4524. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18113-4.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading global cause of death and disability. Here we demonstrate in an experimental mouse model of TBI that mild forms of brain trauma cause severe deficits in meningeal lymphatic drainage that begin within hours and last out to at least one month post-injury. To investigate a mechanism underlying impaired lymphatic function in TBI, we examined how increased intracranial pressure (ICP) influences the meningeal lymphatics. We demonstrate that increased ICP can contribute to meningeal lymphatic dysfunction. Moreover, we show that pre-existing lymphatic dysfunction before TBI leads to increased neuroinflammation and negative cognitive outcomes. Finally, we report that rejuvenation of meningeal lymphatic drainage function in aged mice can ameliorate TBI-induced gliosis. These findings provide insights into both the causes and consequences of meningeal lymphatic dysfunction in TBI and suggest that therapeutics targeting the meningeal lymphatic system may offer strategies to treat TBI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Gliosis / etiology
  • Gliosis / pathology
  • Gliosis / physiopathology*
  • Gliosis / prevention & control
  • Glymphatic System / pathology
  • Glymphatic System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meninges / pathology
  • Meninges / physiopathology*
  • Mice
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor C / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor C / therapeutic use


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor C
  • vascular endothelial growth factor C, mouse