A Bump on the Head or Late to Bed: Behavioral and Pathophysiological Effects of Sleep Deprivation after Repetitive Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Adolescent Rats

Sabrina Salberg, Jennaya Christensen, Glenn R. Yamakawa, Connor Lengkeek, Haris Malik, Jason Tabor, Ali Hazari, Richelle Mychasiuk

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14 Citations (Scopus)


An old wives' tale, and strongly held dogma, maintains that one should be kept awake after a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) to prevent a coma. This, however, conflicts with the known benefits of sleep: repair and restoration. We therefore sought to examine the effects of sleep deprivation (SD) in the post-traumatic sleep period on post-concussion symptomology (PCS). Adolescent male and female rats were administered repetitive mTBIs (RmTBI) or sham injuries and were then assigned to 5 h of SD or left undisturbed. All animals were then tested using seven behavioral tasks validated to examine PCS, followed by analysis of serum cytokines, and quantitative real-time PCR for messenger RNA (mRNA) expression. Exposure to 3 SD epochs significantly impaired behavior in 4 of 7 of the measures, while RmTBI also produced dysfunction in 5 of 7 tests, but the effects of SD and RmTBI were not cumulative. SD induced long-lasting changes in serum levels of Tnf-α, IL6, and IL-1ß. mRNA expression in the pre-frontal cortex, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and anterior cingulate cortex was modified in response to SD and RmTBI; but similar to the behavioral measures, the mRNA changes were not cumulative. Consequently, we report that SD often produced impairments similar or worse than RmTBI, and sleep hygiene should become a priority for adolescent health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1895-1905
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • anterior cingulate cortex
  • concussion
  • cytokine
  • hippocampus
  • hypothalamus
  • mRNA
  • pre-frontal cortex
  • telomere

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