A single mild fluid percussion injury induces short-term behavioral and neuropathological changes in the Long-Evans rat: Support for an animal model of concussion

Sandy R. Shultz, Derrick F. MacFabe, Kelly A. Foley, Roy Taylor, Donald P. Cain

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89 Citations (Scopus)


Brain concussion is a serious public health concern and is associated with short-term cognitive impairments and behavioral disturbances that typically occur in the absence of significant brain damage. The current study addresses the need to better understand the effects of a mild lateral fluid percussion injury on rat behavior and neuropathology in an animal model of concussion. Male Long-Evans rats received either a single mild fluid percussion injury or a sham-injury, and either a short (24. h) or long (4 weeks) post-injury recovery period. After recovery, rats underwent a detailed behavioral analysis consisting of tests for rodent anxiety, cognition, social behavior, sensorimotor function, and depression-like behavior. After testing all rats were sacrificed and brains were examined immunohistochemically with markers for microglia/macrophage activation, reactive astrocytosis, and axonal injury. Injured rats (mean injury force: 1.20 ± 03. atm) displayed significant short-term cognitive impairments in the water maze and significantly more anxiolytic-like behavior in the elevated-plus maze compared to sham controls. Neuropathological analysis of the brains of injured rats showed an acute increase in reactive astrogliosis and activated microglia in cortex and evidence of axonal injury in the corpus callosum. There were no significant long-term effects on any behavioral or neuropathological measure 4 weeks after injury. These short-term behavioral and neuropathological changes are consistent with findings in human patients suffering a brain concussion, and provide further evidence for the use of a single mild lateral fluid percussion injury to study concussion in the rat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-335
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal model
  • Anxiety-like behavior
  • Axonal injury
  • Concussion
  • Fluid percussion injury
  • Learning and memory
  • Neuroinflammation

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