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J Nat Sci. 2017 Jul;3(7). pii: e406.

Military blast-induced synaptic changes with distinct vulnerability may explain behavioral alterations in the absence of obvious brain damage.

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Department of English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages, University of North Carolina - Pembroke, Pembroke, North Carolina, USA.
Department of Interdisciplinary Professions, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
William C. Friday Laboratory, Biotechnology Research and Training Center, University of North Carolina - Pembroke, Pembroke, North Carolina, USA.


Sadly many military veterans, who left home to serve their country honorably, return from service with permanent life-changing injuries. It is easy to remember our debt to those who have incurred such visible injuries, and all too easy to forget the invisible wounds that afflict so many of our military servicemen and women. Brain injuries can be invisible during initial medical evaluations and are often caused by military explosives that create blast shockwaves of varying intensity. One of the most common types of traumatic brain injury (TBI) linked to military service is blast-induced neurotrauma. To better understand this type of injury, a recently published study subjected rat brain slice cultures to detonations of RDX military explosives, resulting in reduced levels of specific synaptic markers. Such alterations have in fact been linked to depressive behavior, anxiety, and cognitive rigidity, and the blast-induced synaptic modifications may underlie the behavioral changes in those TBI sufferers who do not exhibit measurable brain damage. This research has the potential to improve diagnoses by identifying indicators of synapse integrity for the assessment of subtle synaptopathogenesis linked to blast-induced neurotrauma.


Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); blast-induced shockwaves; military explosives; neurotrauma


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