Histological and behavioral evaluation after traumatic brain injury in mice: a ten months follow-up study

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a chronic pathology, inducing long term deficits that remains understudied in preclinical studies. In this context, exploration, anxiety-like behavior, cognitive flexibility and motor coordination were assessed until 5 and 10 months after an experimental TBI in the adult mouse, using two cohorts. In order to differentiate age, surgery, and remote gray and white matter lesions, three groups, unoperated, sham-operated, and TBI, were studied. TBI induced delayed motor coordination deficits at the pole test, 4.5 months after injury, that could be explained by gray and white matter damages in ipsilateral nigrostriatal structures (striatum, internal capsule) that were spreading to new structures between cohorts, at 5 versus 10 months after the injury. Furthermore, TBI induced an enhanced exploratory behavior during stressful situations (active phase during actimetry test, object exploration in an open field), risk-taking behaviors in the elevated plus maze 5 months after injury, and a cognitive inflexibility in the Barnes maze that persists until 9 months after the injury. These behavioral modifications could be related to the white and gray matter lesions observed in ipsi- and contra-lateral limbic structures (amygdala, hilus/CA4, hypothalamus, external capsule, corpus callosum, cingular cortex) that were spreading to new structures between cohorts, at 5 months versus 10 months after the injury. The present study corroborates clinical findings on TBI, and provides a relevant rodent chronic model which could help validating pharmacological strategies against the chronic consequences of TBI.


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