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J Vis Exp. 2015 Jun 30;(100):e52905. doi: 10.3791/52905.

A Method to Inflict Closed Head Traumatic Brain Injury in Drosophila.

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Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Department of Natural Sciences, University of Puerto Rico-Aguadilla.
Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison;


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects millions of people each year, causing impairment of physical, cognitive, and behavioral functions and death. Studies using Drosophila have contributed important breakthroughs in understanding neurological processes. Thus, with the goal of understanding the cellular and molecular basis of TBI pathologies in humans, we developed the High Impact Trauma (HIT) device to inflict closed head TBI in flies. Flies subjected to the HIT device display phenotypes consistent with human TBI such as temporary incapacitation and progressive neurodegeneration. The HIT device uses a spring-based mechanism to propel flies against the wall of a vial, causing mechanical damage to the fly brain. The device is inexpensive and easy to construct, its operation is simple and rapid, and it produces reproducible results. Consequently, the HIT device can be combined with existing experimental tools and techniques for flies to address fundamental questions about TBI that can lead to the development of diagnostics and treatments for TBI. In particular, the HIT device can be used to perform large-scale genetic screens to understand the genetic basis of TBI pathologies.

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