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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) often involves multitrauma in which concurrent extracranial injury occurs. We previously demonstrated that a long bone fracture exacerbates neuroinflammation and functional outcomes in mice given a TBI. Whether other forms of concomitant peripheral trauma that are common in the TBI setting, such as skeletal muscle injury, have similar effects is unknown. As such, here we developed a novel mouse multitrauma model by combining a closed-skull TBI with a cardiotoxin (CTX)-induced muscle injury to investigate whether muscle injury affects TBI outcomes. Adult male mice were assigned to four groups: sham-TBI + sham-muscle injury (SHAM); sham-TBI + CTX-muscle injury (CTX); TBI + sham-muscle injury (TBI); TBI + CTX-muscle injury (MULTI). Some mice were euthanized at 24 h post-injury to assess neuroinflammation and cerebral edema. The remaining mice underwent behavioral testing after a 30-day recovery period, and were euthanized at 35 days post-injury for post-mortem analysis. At 24 h post-injury, both TBI and MULTI mice had elevated edema, increased expression of GFAP (i.e., a marker for reactive astrocytes), and increased mRNA levels of inflammatory chemokines. There was also an effect of injury on cytokine levels at 35 days post-injury. However, the TBI and MULTI mice did not significantly differ on any of the measures assessed. These initial findings suggest that a concomitant muscle injury does not significantly affect preclinical TBI outcomes. Future studies should investigate the combination of different injury models, additional outcomes, and other post-injury time points.
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