Scientists use Vesselucida 360 to quantify brain vasculature in mTBI model

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.

Fig:1 Chronic vascular pathology in blast-exposed rats revealed by micro-CT scanning. Two control and two blast-exposed rats were transcardially perfused with the Brite Vu contrast agent at 10 months after blast exposure. Brains were scanned at a resolution of 7.5 μm using equispaced angles of view around 360°, and 3D reconstructions were prepared with Bruker’s CTVox 3D visualization software. a-d MIP images of volume-rendered brain vasculature from two control (a, b) and two blast-exposed (c, d) rats revealed diffuse thinning of the brain vasculature in the blast-exposed rats. Scale bar, 2 mm. e-h Trace sagittal reconstructions used for the automated quantitation from control (e-f) and blastexposed rats (g-h) o-p Higher magnification views of the regions outlined by the boxes in panels (f) and (h). Scale bars, 1 mm for (e-h), and 0.6mm for (o-p). i-n Reconstructions of coronal optical sections from the brains of control (i, k) and blast-exposed (j, l) animals. Panels (i) and (j) correspond approximately to coordinates interaural 12.24–9.48 mm and panels (k) and (l) correspond approximately to coordinates interaural 6.94–3.24 mm. Lateral views of (i) and (j) are shown in (m) and (n), respectively. Vessels were color coded to allow visualization of individual vessels automatically traced by the Vesselucida 360 software. Note the general loss of radial organization in the blast-exposed shown in panel (j). Scale bar, 1 mm for (i-n)

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.

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