A research project at The Roskamp Institute has demonstrated for the first time that mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) or concussion can precipitate a lifelong degenerative process in the brain.

The findings of this study, led by Dr. Fiona Crawford and conducted by Dr. Benoit Mouzon, were published in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Neurology on December 14th, 2017.

According to the lead Author, Dr. Mouzon, one of the major questions in the field of neuroscience is to determine what impact a traumatic brain injury, even mild, can have on a person’s life. In this study, animals that were exposed to repetitive mild TBI at 3 months of age (early adulthood) showed impairments in learning and working memory at 24 months post-injury when compared to their non-injured control animals (the equivalent of a person aged > 75 years old). There was also evidence of neuroinflammation and ongoing degeneration of neuron projections. Interestingly, these changes were also observed in animals after a single mild TBI, albeit to a lesser degree than after repetitive mild TBI.

“The demonstration of lifelong consequences of mild TBI in this model provides a platform for studies into processes driving these pathologies, and the identification of strategies for their prevention” Dr. Mouzon said, “Our clinical collaborators support the relevance of our animal models to human TBI, and using this model we have already identified promising therapeutic candidates, so the potential for clinical translation is high”

The Institute’s study of TBI arose from the known link between TBI and later life neurodegenerative disease, in particular Alzheimer’s Disease, a core component of the Institute’s research portfolio. From the connection of TBI and Alzheimer’s, the Institute’s research delved further into neuropsychological and neurodegenerative conditions suffered by the military and veterans and now has a very active TBI Research Program.

Fiona Crawford, Ph.D., President and CEO of The Roskamp Institute, leads the Institute’s TBI Research Program which is supported by the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration and the Roskamp Foundation. She is pleased that these critical data will now be available to the research community. “Our team has pioneered the investigation of the chronic effects of neurotrauma in laboratory models. Given the very mild nature of these injuries, Dr. Mouzon’s findings are very disconcerting, but they reveal the persistence of injury-induced cellular processes in the brain that we can target with interventions to improve long term outcomes. These findings give hope that therapeutic strategies may be useful even years after injuries have been sustained”.

To read the full study, click on this link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/acn3.510/full