A single closed head injury in male adult mice induces chronic, progressive white matter atrophy and increased phospho-tau expressing oligodendrocytes

David F. Havlicek, Rachel Furhang, Elena Nikulina, Bayle Smith-Salzberg, Siobhán Lawless, Sasha A. Severin, Sevara Mallaboeva, Fizza Nayab, Alan C. Seifert, John F. Crary, Peter J. Bergold

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3 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) acutely damages the brain; this injury can evolve into chronic neurodegeneration. While much is known about the chronic effects arising from multiple mild TBIs, far less is known about the long-term effects of a single moderate to severe TBI. We found that a single moderate closed head injury to mice induces diffuse axonal injury within 1-day post-injury (DPI). At 14 DPI, injured animals have atrophy of ipsilesional cortex, thalamus, and corpus callosum, with bilateral atrophy of the dorsal fornix. Atrophy of the ipsilesional corpus callosum is accompanied by decreased fractional anisotropy and increased mean and radial diffusivity that remains unchanged between 14 and 180 DPI. Injured animals show an increased density of phospho-tau immunoreactive (pTau+) cells in the ipsilesional cortex and thalamus, and bilaterally in corpus callosum. Between 14 and 180 DPI, atrophy occurs in the ipsilesional ventral fornix, contralesional corpus callosum, and bilateral internal capsule. Diffusion tensor MRI parameters remain unchanged in white matter regions with delayed atrophy. Between 14 and 180 DPI, pTau+ cell density increases bilaterally in corpus callosum, but decreases in cortex and thalamus. The location of pTau+ cells within the ipsilesional corpus callosum changes between 14 and 180 DPI; density of all cells increases including pTau+ or pTau cells. >90% of the pTau+ cells are in the oligodendrocyte lineage in both gray and white matter. Density of thioflavin-S+ cells in thalamus increases by 180 DPI. These data suggest a single closed head impact produces multiple forms of chronic neurodegeneration. Gray and white matter regions proximal to the impact site undergo early atrophy. More distal white matter regions undergo chronic, progressive white matter atrophy with an increasing density of oligodendrocytes containing pTau. These data suggest a complex chronic neurodegenerative process arising from a single moderate closed head injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114241
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • DT-MRI
  • Ipsilesional vs. contralesional
  • Moderate traumatic brain injury
  • Proximity to impact site
  • T2 MRI
  • Thioflavin S


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