Validation of reference genes for gene expression analysis following experimental traumatic brain injury in a pediatric mouse model

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Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is the gold standard method in targeted analysis of messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in a tissue. To minimize methodological errors, a reference gene (or a combination of reference genes) is routinely used for normalization to account for technical variables such as RNA quality and sample size. While presumed to have stable expression, reference genes in the brain can change during normal development, as well as in response to injury, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI). This study is the first to evaluate the stability of reference genes in a controlled cortical impact (CCI) model in the pediatric mouse brain, using two methods of qPCR normalization for optimal reference gene selection. Three week old mice were subjected to unilateral CCI at two severity of injuries (mild or severe), compared to sham controls. At 1 and 8 weeks post-injury, the ipsilateral hemisphere was analyzed to determine reference gene stability. Five commonly-used reference genes were compared: tyrosine 3 monooxygenase/tryptophan 5 monooxygenase activation protein zeta (Ywhaz), cyclophilin A (Ppia), hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (Hprt), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (Gapdh) and β-actin (Actb). Ppia and Hprt were chosen as the most stable combination of genes using GeNORM software analysis. These results highlight the instability of several commonly used reference genes after TBI, and provide a selection of validated genes for future gene expression analyses in the injured pediatric mouse brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-49
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Development
  • House-keeping gene
  • Pediatric
  • qPCR
  • Reference genes
  • Traumatic brain injury

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