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The development of sepsis in patients with traumatic brain injury increases mortality, exacerbates morphological and functional cerebral damage, and causes persistent neuroinflammation, including microglial activation. The administration of antibiotics possessing both antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activity might attenuate both sepsis and posttraumatic cerebral inflammation. We compared the potential therapeutic efficacy of two tetracyclines, minocycline and the newer generation tigecycline, on functional neurobehavioral impairment and regional histopathological damage in an experimental model of combined traumatic brain injury and sepsis.Prospective, experimental animal study.University Research Laboratory.Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats.Controlled cortical impact was used to induce traumatic brain injury and cecal ligation and puncture for sepsis. Immediately following injury, animals were treated with minocycline (45 mg/kg intraperitoneal), tigecycline (7.5 mg/kg intraperitoneal), or saline every 12 hours for 3 days.The development of sepsis and cerebral inflammatory response were evaluated, respectively, by 1) growth of peritoneal microorganisms and clinical variables and 2) tumor necrosis factor-α expression in the perilesional cortex. To assess posttraumatic outcome, vestibulomotor and cognitive function were evaluated at different time points for 14 days post injury whereupon animals were killed and cerebral tissue analyzed for lesion volume, regional hippocampal (CA1/CA3) cell death, and microglial activation in the perilesional cortex, lesion core zone, and choroid plexus. Treatment with both antibiotics reduced microorganism growth, body weight loss, and mortality but had no effect on vestibulomotor or cognitive function. Minocycline alone attenuated postinjury cortical lesion volume, hippocampal CA3 neuronal cell loss, tumor necrosis factor-α expression, and the extent of microglial activation and infiltration.The significantly heightened mortality caused by the superimposition of sepsis upon traumatic brain injury can be reduced by administration of both antibiotics but only minocycline can decrease the extent of cell death in selectively cortical and hippocampal brain regions, via, in part, a reduction in cerebral inflammation.