Determining the Effects of Neuronal Proximity to Blood Vessels on Cell Membrane Permeability Following Repetitive Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a violent blow or jolt to the head. Our research focused on inertial-loading TBI, in which the brain is damaged due to acceleration/deceleration forces of the brain within the skull. Repetitive TBI can lead to vascular deformities and long-term deficits in brain tissue.
Due to the difference in density between blood vessels and brain parenchyma, we believe the structural discontinuities caused by the presence of blood vessels in the brain may create mechanical stress points for brain tissue surrounding the vasculature. Characterizing the damage to the brain’s vasculature can provide insight to the contribution of blood vessels to the pathology of repetitive TBI.
We define the junctions between blood vessels and surrounding brain tissue as the perivascular domain. We further suggest that the neural cells surrounding blood vessels in perivascular domains are most vulnerable to damage post-TBI, specifically to cell membrane permeability.
The objective of our study was to determine whether neurons in perivascular domains, or physically near mid-sized blood vessels, are preferentially vulnerable to plasma membrane damage following repetitive TBI.
Our main takeaway from this project was the novel semi-automated platform we developed to define perivascular zones and to identify blood vessels and permeabilized neurons. With this platform, we conclude that timing between repetitive injuries may be a mediating variable in neuronal susceptibility within perivascular zones, and we want to continue looking into these results with future experiments that will allow us to study the pathophysiology of TBI more in-depth. Applying this research to understanding TBI pathology could inform new ways to treat repetitive TBI in the future.