Beyond the Brain: Peripheral Interactions after Traumatic Brain Injury

Stuart J. McDonald, Jessica M. Sharkey, Mujun Sun, Lola M. Kaukas, Sandy R. Shultz, Renee J. Turner, Anna V. Leonard, Rhys D. Brady, Frances Corrigan

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57 Citations (Scopus)


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability, and there are currently no pharmacological treatments known to improve patient outcomes. Unquestionably, contributing toward a lack of effective treatments is the highly complex and heterogenous nature of TBI. In this review, we highlight the recent surge of research that has demonstrated various central interactions with the periphery as a potential major contributor toward this heterogeneity and, in particular, the breadth of research from Australia. We describe the growing evidence of how extracranial factors, such as polytrauma and infection, can significantly alter TBI neuropathology. In addition, we highlight how dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system and the systemic inflammatory response induced by TBI can have profound pathophysiological effects on peripheral organs, such as the heart, lung, gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidney, spleen, and bone. Collectively, this review firmly establishes TBI as a systemic condition. Further, the central and peripheral interactions that can occur after TBI must be further explored and accounted for in the ongoing search for effective treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-781
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • autonomic dysfunction
  • infection
  • inflammation
  • polytrauma
  • traumatic brain injury

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