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J Neurotrauma. 2016 Mar 15;33(6):595-605. doi: 10.1089/neu.2015.4132.

Insight into Pre-Clinical Models of Traumatic Brain Injury Using Circulating Brain Damage Biomarkers: Operation Brain Trauma Therapy.

Author information

1 Department of Neurosciences, University of Messina , Messina, Italy .
2 Brain Trauma Neuroprotection/Neurorestoration, Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research , Silver Spring, Maryland.
3 Department of Neurological Surgery, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami , Miami, Florida.
4 Bruce W. Carter Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center , Miami, Florida.
5 Department of Neurological Surgery, Brain Trauma Research Center, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
6 Center of Neuroproteomics and Biomarkers Research, Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, University of Florida , Gainesville, Florida.
7 Center for Innovative Research, Center for Neuroproteomics and Biomarkers Research , Banyan Biomarkers, Inc., Alachua, Florida.
8 Banyan Biomarkers , Alachua, Florida.
9 Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University , Richmond, Virginia.
10 Department of Critical Care Medicine, Safar Center for Resuscitation Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Operation Brain Trauma Therapy (OBTT) is a multicenter pre-clinical drug screening consortium testing promising therapies for traumatic brain injury (TBI) in three well-established models of TBI in rats--namely, parasagittal fluid percussion injury (FPI), controlled cortical impact (CCI), and penetrating ballistic-like brain injury (PBBI). This article presents unique characterization of these models using histological and behavioral outcomes and novel candidate biomarkers from the first three treatment trials of OBTT. Adult rats underwent CCI, FPI, or PBBI and were treated with vehicle (VEH). Shams underwent all manipulations except trauma. The glial marker glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and the neuronal marker ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase (UCH-L1) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in blood at 4 and 24 h, and their delta 24-4 h was calculated for each marker. Comparing sham groups across experiments, no differences were found in the same model. Similarly, comparing TBI + VEH groups across experiments, no differences were found in the same model. GFAP was acutely increased in injured rats in each model, with significant differences in levels and temporal patterns mirrored by significant differences in delta 24-4 h GFAP levels and neuropathological and behavioral outcomes. Circulating GFAP levels at 4 and 24 h were powerful predictors of 21 day contusion volume and tissue loss. UCH-L1 showed similar tendencies, albeit with less robust differences between sham and injury groups. Significant differences were also found comparing shams across the models. Our findings (1) demonstrate that TBI models display specific biomarker profiles, functional deficits, and pathological consequence; (2) support the concept that there are different cellular, molecular, and pathophysiological responses to TBI in each model; and (3) advance our understanding of TBI, providing opportunities for a successful translation and holding promise for theranostic applications. Based on our findings, additional studies in pre-clinical models should pursue assessment of GFAP as a surrogate histological and/or theranostic end-point.


Morris water maze; biomarkers; controlled cortical impact; fluid percussion injury; glial fibrillary acidic protein; penetrating ballistic-like brain injury; rat; theranostic; ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase-L1

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