Image_3_Sex-Dependent Pathology in the HPA Axis at a Sub-acute Period After Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury.TIF (780.95 kB)
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posted on 30.09.2020, 04:39 authored by Caitlin E. Bromberg, Andrew M. Condon, Samantha W. Ridgway, Gokul Krishna, Pamela C. Garcia-Filion, P. David Adelson, Rachel K. Rowe, Theresa Currier Thomas

Over 2.8 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are reported in the United States annually, of which, over 75% are mild TBIs with diffuse axonal injury (DAI) as the primary pathology. TBI instigates a stress response that stimulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis concurrently with DAI in brain regions responsible for feedback regulation. While the incidence of affective symptoms is high in both men and women, presentation is more prevalent and severe in women. Few studies have longitudinally evaluated the etiology underlying late-onset affective symptoms after mild TBI and even fewer have included females in the experimental design. In the experimental TBI model employed in this study, evidence of chronic HPA dysregulation has been reported at 2 months post-injury in male rats, with peak neuropathology in other regions of the brain at 7 days post-injury (DPI). We predicted that mechanisms leading to dysregulation of the HPA axis in male and female rats would be most evident at 7 DPI, the sub-acute time point. Young adult age-matched male and naturally cycling female Sprague Dawley rats were subjected to midline fluid percussion injury (mFPI) or sham surgery. Corticotropin releasing hormone, gliosis, and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) levels were evaluated in the hypothalamus and hippocampus, along with baseline plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and adrenal gland weights. Microglial response in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus indicated mild neuroinflammation in males compared to sex-matched shams, but not females. Evidence of microglia activation in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus was robust in both sexes compared with uninjured shams and there was evidence of a significant interaction between sex and injury regarding microglial cell count. GFAP intensity and astrocyte numbers increased as a function of injury, indicative of astrocytosis. GR protein levels were elevated 30% in the hippocampus of females in comparison to sex-matched shams. These data indicate sex-differences in sub-acute pathophysiology following DAI that precede late-onset HPA axis dysregulation. Further understanding of the etiology leading up to late-onset HPA axis dysregulation following DAI could identify targets to stabilize feedback, attenuate symptoms, and improve efficacy of rehabilitation and overall recovery.

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