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Research Article

Blast overpressure induced axonal injury changes in rat brainstem and spinal cord


Introduction:Blast induced neurotrauma has been the signature wound in returning soldiers from the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of importance is understanding the pathomechansim(s) of blast overpressure (OP) induced axonal injury. Although several recent animal models of blast injury indicate the neuronal and axonal injury in various brain regions, animal studies related to axonal injury in the white matter (WM) tracts of cervical spinal cord are limited.Objective:The purpose of this study was to assess the extent of axonal injury in WM tracts of cervical spinal cord in male Sprague Dawley rats subjected to a single insult of blast OP.Materials and Methods:Sagittal brainstem sections and horizontal cervical spinal cord sections from blast and sham animals were stained by neurofilament light (NF-L) chain and beta amyloid precursor protein immunocytochemistry and observed for axonal injury changes.Results:Observations from this preliminary study demonstrate axonal injury changes in the form of prominent swellings, retraction bulbs, and putative signs of membrane disruptions in the brainstem and cervical spinal cord WM tracts of rats subjected to blast OP.Conclusions:Prominent axonal injury changes following the blast OP exposure in brainstem and cervical spinal WM tracts underscores the need for careful evaluation of blast induced injury changes and associated symptoms. NF-L immunocytochemistry can be considered as an additional tool to assess the blast OP induced axonal injury.