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Ann Neurol. 2013 Jul;74(1):65-75. doi: 10.1002/ana.23858. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Clinical correlates in an experimental model of repetitive mild brain injury.

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  • 1Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Although there is growing awareness of the long-term cognitive effects of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (rmTBI; eg, sports concussions), whether repeated concussions cause long-term cognitive deficits remains controversial. Moreover, whether cognitive deficits depend on increased amyloid β deposition and tau phosphorylation or are worsened by the apolipoprotein E4 allele remains unknown. Here, we use an experimental model of rmTBI to address these clinical controversies.

METHODS:

A weight drop rmTBI model was used that results in cognitive deficits without loss of consciousness, seizures, or gross or microscopic evidence of brain damage. Cognitive function was assessed using a Morris water maze (MWM) paradigm. Immunostaining and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were used to assess amyloid β deposition and tau hyperphosphorylation. Brain volume and white matter integrity were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

RESULTS:

Mice subjected to rmTBI daily or weekly but not biweekly or monthly had persistent cognitive deficits as long as 1 year after injuries. Long-term cognitive deficits were associated with increased astrocytosis but not tau phosphorylation or amyloid β (by ELISA); plaques or tangles (by immunohistochemistry); or brain volume loss or changes in white matter integrity (by MRI). APOE4 was not associated with worse MWM performance after rmTBI.

INTERPRETATION:

Within the vulnerable time period between injuries, rmTBI produces long-term cognitive deficits independent of increased amyloid β or tau phosphorylation. In this model, cognitive outcome is not influenced by APOE4 status. The data have implications for the long-term mental health of athletes who suffer multiple concussions.

Copyright © 2013 American Neurological Association.

PMID:
23922306
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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