It is not uncommon for war veterans returning home from war-zones like Iraq and Afghanistan to suffer from blast-induced traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In these situations, the most common types of blasts are lower level blasts, the kind that produce mild TBIs (mTBI). Though the effects of a mTBI aren’t visible from the outside, scientists say the blood vessels inside the brain are deeply altered.
In their study of a mouse model of mTBI that mimics the blast exposure associated with human mild TBI, a research team, that includes MBF Bioscience Scientific Director Dr. Susan Tappan, say that low-level blast exposure disrupts the way cells interact with each other within the brain’s neurovascular unit.
Aiming to mimic an event often experienced by soldiers and military personnel in war-torn regions, the scientists exposed rats to a series of three blasts — one blast per day, over three consecutive days. Though the rats developed behaviors typical to chronic PTSD, their neuronal pathology, at least at the light and electron microscopy levels remained unchanged, according to the study. However, when the researchers examined the rat brains on a vascular level, they found evidence of chronic damage.