Direct or indirect exposure to an explosion can induce traumatic brain injury (TBI) of various severity levels. Primary TBI from blast exposure is commonly characterized by internal injuries, such as vascular damage, neuronal injury, and contusion, without external injuries. Current animal models of blast-induced TBI (bTBI) have helped to understand the deleterious effects of moderate to severe blast forces. However, the neurological effects of mild blast forces remain poorly characterized. Here, we investigated the effects caused by mild blast forces combining neuropathological, histological, biochemical and neurophysiological analysis. For this purpose, we employed a rodent blast TBI model with blast forces below the level that causes macroscopic neuropathological changes. We found that mild blast forces induced neuroinflammation in cerebral cortex, striatum and hippocampus. Moreover, mild blast triggered microvascular damage and axonal injury. Furthermore, mild blast caused deficits in hippocampal short-term plasticity and synaptic excitability, but no impairments in long-term potentiation. Finally, mild blast exposure induced proteolytic cleavage of spectrin and the cyclin-dependent kinase 5 activator, p35 in hippocampus. Together, these findings show that mild blast forces can cause aberrant neurological changes that critically impact neuronal functions. These results are consistent with the idea that mild blast forces may induce subclinical pathophysiological changes that may contribute to neurological and psychiatric disorders.
- Axonal swelling
- Blast-induced traumatic brain injury
- Microvascular damage
- Short-term plasticity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience