Repeated mild traumatic brain injuries induce persistent changes in plasma protein and magnetic resonance imaging biomarkers in the rat

David K. Wright, Rhys D. Brady, Alaa Kamnaksh, Jack Trezise, Mujun Sun, Stuart J. McDonald, Richelle Mychasiuk, Scott C. Kolbe, Meng Law, Leigh A. Johnston, Terence J. O'Brien, Denes V. Agoston, Sandy R. Shultz

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29 Citations (Scopus)


A single mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) typically causes only transient symptoms, but repeated mTBI (RmTBI) is associated with cumulative and chronic neurological abnormalities. Clinical management of mTBI is challenging due to the heterogeneous, subjective and transient nature of symptoms, and thus would be aided by objective biomarkers. Promising biomarkers including advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and plasma levels of select proteins were examined here in a rat model of RmTBI. Rats received either two mild fluid percussion or sham injuries administered five days apart. Rats underwent MRI and behavioral testing 1, 3, 5, 7, and 30 days after the second injury and blood samples were collected on days 1, 7, and 30. Structural and diffusion-weighted MRI revealed that RmTBI rats had abnormalities in the cortex and corpus callosum. Proteomic analysis of plasma found that RmTBI rats had abnormalities in markers indicating axonal and vascular injury, metabolic and mitochondrial dysfunction, and glial reactivity. These changes occurred in the presence of ongoing cognitive and sensorimotor deficits in the RmTBI rats. Our findings demonstrate that RmTBI can result in chronic neurological abnormalities, provide insight into potential contributing pathophysiological mechanisms, and supports the use of MRI and plasma protein measures as RmTBI biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14626
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2019

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