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Temporal expression of brainstem neurotrophic proteins following mild traumatic brain injury.

Brain Research 2024 April 5
BDNF, a neurotrophic factor, and its receptors have been implicated in the pathophysiology of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The brainstem houses many vital functions, that are also associated with signs and symptoms of mTBI, but has been understudied in mTBI animal models. We determined the extent to which neurotrophic protein and associated receptor expression is affected within the brainstem of adult rats following mTBI. Their behavioral function was assessed and temporal expression of the 'negative' regulators of neuronal function (p75, t-TrkB, and pro-BDNF) and 'positive' neuroprotective (FL-TrkB and m-BDNF) protein isoforms were determined via western blot and immunohistochemistry at 1, 3, 7, and 14 post-injury days (PID) following mTBI or sham (control) procedure. Within the brainstem, p75 expression increased at PID 1 vs. sham animals. t-TrkB and pro-BDNF expression increased at PID 7 and 14. The 'positive' protein isoforms of FL-TrkB and m-BDNF expression were increased only at PID 7. The ratio of t-TrkB:FL-TrkB (negative:positive) was substantial across groups and time points, suggesting a negative impact of neurotrophic signaling on neuronal function. Additional NeuN experiments revealed cell death occurring within a subset of neurons within the medulla. While behavioral measures improved by PID 7-14, negative neurotrophic biochemical responses persisted. Despite the assertion that mTBI produces "mild" injury, evidence of cell death was observed in the medulla. Ratios of TrkB and BDNF isoforms with conflicting functions suggest that future work should specifically measure each subtype since they induce opposing downstream effects on neuronal function.

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