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Exp Neurol. 1999 Oct;159(2):441-50.

Upregulation of amyloid precursor protein messenger RNA in response to traumatic brain injury: an ovine head impact model.

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Department of Pathology, University of Adelaide, South Australia.


There is evidence that the amyloid precursor protein (APP) plays an important role in neuronal growth and synaptic plasticity and that its increased expression following traumatic brain injury represents an acute phase response to trauma. We hypothesized that the previously described increased APP expression in response to injury (Van den Heuvel et al., Acta Neurochir. Suppl. 71, 209-211) is due to increased mRNA expression and addressed this by examining the expression of APP mRNA and APP within neuronal cell bodies over time in an ovine head impact model. Twenty-five anesthetized and ventilated 2-year-old Merino ewes sustained a left temporal head impact using a humane stunner and 9 normal sheep were used as nonimpact controls. Following postimpact survival periods of 15, 30, 45, 60, and 120 min, brains were perfusion fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde and examined according to standard neuropathological protocol. APP mRNA and antigen expression were examined in 5-microm sections by nonisotopic in situ hybridization and APP immunocytochemistry. The percentage of brain area with APP immunoreactivity within neuronal cell bodies in the impacted animals increased with time from a mean of 7.5% at 15 min to 54.5% at 2 h. Control brains showed only very small numbers of weakly APP-positive neuronal cell bodies ranging from 2 to 14% (mean 7%). Increased expression of APP mRNA was first evident in impacted hemispheres at 30 min after impact and progressively increased over time to involve neurons in all sampled regions of the brain, suggesting increased transcription of APP. In contrast, APP mRNA was undetectable in tissue from nonimpacted sheep. These data show that APP mRNA and antigen expression are sensitive early indicators of neuronal injury with widespread upregulation occurring as early as 30 min after head impact.

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