'Resetting' immune cells improves traumatic brain injury recovery in preclinical trials

February 24, 2020

Targeting overactive immune cells and dampening their chronic neurotoxic effects may offer new therapeutic strategies for traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to new preclinical research in mice, which has been published today [Monday 24th February 2020] in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The collaborative research, which involved scientists from Trinity College Dublin and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA, also suggests that the impact of TBI on brain degeneration may be modifiable a relatively long time after the injury was sustained - something at odds with current thinking.

Traumatic brain injury and delayed treatment

Triggered by trauma, microglia - the brain's immune cells - morph into an inflammatory state, which helps to protect the brain. However, long-term inflammation after TBI may contribute to neurological degeneration and cognitive declines similar to those observed in TBI-associated neurodegenerative diseases, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy and Alzheimer's disease.

The scientists involved in the new study found that highly delayed targeting of chronic inflammation pathways may be a very effective therapeutic strategy for TBI.

One month after a TBI, the team inhibited a particular receptor microglia need to survive. The inhibition killed 95% of the mice microglia cells. However, the cells bounced back to normal levels once the inhibition ends.

The researchers then stopped the inhibition after one week and let the mice recover for a few months. They found that the inhibition essentially "reset" the mice's microglia: the new cells were in a more normal, less inflammatory state. The mice recovered better than the mice that didn't receive treatment, showing less brain damage, fewer neuron deaths, and better motor and cognitive performance.

David Loane, Research assistant professor in Trinity's School of Biochemistry and Immunology, said:

"These preclinical studies suggest that the consequences of TBI on brain degeneration and related neurological impairment may be modifiable quite a long time after injury by targeting inflammation pathways, which is a finding at odds with widely accepted views about head injury."

"The exciting thing is the possibility that we may one day be able to minimise brain degeneration and neurological impairment in people who have suffered a TBI. It will of course always be incredibly important to act quickly whenever someone suffers a TBI, but our findings suggest targeting inflammation pathways further down the treatment line may make a major difference to long-term brain health and recovery."

Dr Loane has recently established a state-of-the-art, preclinical research laboratory in Trinity to study the neuroimmunology of TBI and related dementias. His work is supported by an SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award and the National Institutes of Health (USA).
-end-


Trinity College Dublin

Related Traumatic Brain Injury Articles from Brightsurf:

Point-of-care biomarker assay for traumatic brain injury
Intracranial abnormalities on CT scan in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be predicted by glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) levels in the blood.

Long-studied protein could be a measure of traumatic brain injury
WRAIR scientists have recently demonstrated that cathepsin B, a well-studied protein important to brain development and function, can be used as biomarker, or indicator of severity, for TBI.

Reducing dangerous swelling in traumatic brain injury
After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the most harmful damage is caused by secondary swelling of the brain compressed inside the skull.

Blue light can help heal mild traumatic brain injury
Daily exposure to blue wavelength light each morning helps to re-entrain the circadian rhythm so that people get better, more regular sleep which was translated into improvements in cognitive function, reduced daytime sleepiness and actual brain repair.

Dealing a therapeutic counterblow to traumatic brain injury
A team of NJIT biomedical engineers are developing a therapy which shows early indications it can protect neurons and stimulate the regrowth of blood vessels in damaged tissue.

Predictors of cognitive recovery following mild to severe traumatic brain injury
Researchers have shown that higher intelligence and younger age are predictors of greater cognitive recovery 2-5 years post-mild to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Which car crashes cause traumatic brain injury?
Motor vehicle crashes are one of the most common causes of TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths.

Traumatic brain injury and kids: New treatment guidelines issued
To help promote the highest standards of care, and improve the overall rates of survival and recovery following TBI, a panel of pediatric critical care, neurosurgery and other pediatric experts today issued the third edition of the Brain Trauma Foundation Guidelines for the Management of Pediatric Severe TBI.

Addressing sleep disorders after traumatic brain injury
Amsterdam, NL, December 10, 2018 - Disorders of sleep are some of the most common problems experienced by patients after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Rutgers researchers discover possible cause for Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury
Rutgers researchers discover a possible cause for Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury, and the new mechanism may have also led to the discovery of an effective treatment.

Read More: Traumatic Brain Injury News and Traumatic Brain Injury Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.