Nav: Home

Potential target identified for preventing long-term effects of traumatic brain injury

October 31, 2016

More than 200,000 U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East have experienced a blast-related traumatic brain injury, making it a common health problem and concern for that population.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have various harmful long-term neurological effects, including problems with vision, coordination, memory, mood, and thinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBI from a head injury is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, and close to 5 million Americans--soldiers and non-soldiers alike--are currently living with a TBI-related disability. Current therapy for these patients involves supportive care and rehabilitation, but no treatments are available that can prevent the development of chronic neurological symptoms.

Researchers from the University of Iowa believe they may have identified a potential approach for preventing the development of neurological problems associated with TBI. Their research in mice suggests that protecting axons--the fiber-like projections that connect brain cells--prevents the long-term neuropsychiatric problems caused by blast-related traumatic brain injury.

In a recent study, the UI team, led by Andrew Pieper, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the UI Carver College of Medicine, investigated whether early damage to axons--an event that is strongly associated with many forms of brain injury, including blast-related TBI--is simply a consequence of the injury or whether it is a driving cause of the subsequent neurological and psychiatric symptoms.

To answer that question, the researchers used mice with a genetic mutation that protects axons from some forms of damage. The mutation works by maintaining normal levels of an important energy metabolite known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) in brain cells after injury.

When mice with the mutation experienced blast-mediated TBI, their axons were protected from damage, and they did not develop the vision problems or the thinking and movement difficulties that were seen when mice without the mutation experienced blast-related TBI. The findings were published Oct. 11 in the online journal eNeuro.

"Our work strongly suggests that early axonal injury appears to be a critical driver of neurobehavioral complications after blast-TBI," says Pieper, who also is a professor of neurology, radiation oncology, and a physician with the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

"Therefore, future therapeutic strategies targeted specifically at protecting or augmenting the health of axons may provide a uniquely beneficial approach for preventing these patients from developing neurologic symptoms after blast exposure."

In confirming the critical relationship between axon degeneration and development of subsequent neurological complication, the new study builds on previous work from Pieper's lab. The researchers also have discovered a series of neuroprotective compounds that appear to help axons survive the kind of early damage seen in TBI. These compounds activate a molecular pathway that preserves neuronal levels of NAD, the energy metabolite that has been shown to be critical to the health of axons. Pieper's team previously demonstrated that these neuroprotective compounds block axonal degeneration and protect mice from harmful neurological effects of blast-TBI, even when the compound are given 24 to 36 hours after the blast injury.
-end-
In addition to Pieper, the research team included Terry Yin, Jaymie Voorhees, Rachel Genova, Kevin Davis, Ashley Madison, Jeremiah Britt, Coral Cinton, Latisha McDaniel, and Matthew Harper. Pieper also is a member of the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute at the UI.

The research was supported by funds from Calico LLC (California Life Company) and the Mary Alice Smith Fund for Neuropsychiatry Research.

University of Iowa Health Care

Related Traumatic Brain Injury Articles:

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).
More Traumatic Brain Injury News and Traumatic Brain Injury Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...