DOI: 10.1002/alz.076626 ISSN: 1552-5260

Altered brain connectivity, neuroinflammation and AD‐related markers following 7 days after repetitive mild traumatic brain injury in young wild‐type mice

Marangelie Criado‐Marrero, Sakthivel Ravi, Gabriela P Hery, Mackenzie L Bolen, Marcelo Febo, Matteo M Grudny, Stefan Prokop, Jose F. F Abisambra
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) substantially increase the risk for neurodegenerative disorders including tauopathies and synucleinopathies. Repetitive mild TBI (rmTBI) exacerbate damage in brain impacting cognitive and emotional processes through lifetime. Therefore, there is a critical need to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying TBI‐mediated brain dysfunction. In doing so, we can develop effective therapies as the etiology for dementia remain poorly understood. Our goal is to identify early, unbiased, and novel biomarkers of brain dysfunction following rmTBI. These include defects in the brain connectome and protein expression in the areas most functionally susceptible to damage following rmTBI.


To do this, we exposed young male and female C57BL/6J wild‐type mice to two rmTBI (2 × 0.6 J impacts/24 h apart) using the closed head injury model of engineered rotational acceleration (CHIMERA) or sham procedures. We measured changes in brain functional connectivity (FC) using resting state functional MRI (rsfMRI) and graph theory, examined microstructural differences in white and grey matter regions through diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) analyses, surveyed neuropathological proteins using NanoString‐GeoMx Digital spatial protein profiling spatial profiling (DSP).


The rsfMRI data revealed that rmTBI induces aberrant changes in the graph metrics such as node clustering coefficient, global and local efficiency, participation coefficient, eigenvector centrality, and betweenness centrality in brain regions processing visual, auditory, and somatosensory information. The optic tract and thalamus were the most affected regions showing significant differences in phospho‐tau (S199), neuroinflammatory markers (GFAP, Iba‐1, GPNMB), and other proteolytic (cathepsin‐D) and proliferation (ki‐67) cell markers. We identified extensive white matter damage, defects in brain FC, and exacerbated anatomically distinct protein profiles.


These findings align with results reported in individuals with TBI such as diffuse axonal damage, glial activation, and functional network disruption in the visual tract and specific thalamic regions. Upcoming studies will evaluate the potential use of using brain imaging along with molecular markers to predict longitudinal damage after rmTBI.

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