Early behavioral and metabolomic change after mild to moderate traumatic brain injury in the developing brain

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Pathophysiology of developmental traumatic brain injury (TBI) is unique due to intrinsic differences in the developing brain. Energy metabolic studies of the brain during early development (P13 to P30) have indicated acute oxidative energy metabolic decreases below 24 h after TBI, which generally recovered by 48 h. However, marked neurodegeneration and altered neural functional connectivity have been observed at later stages into adolescence. As secondary neurodegeneration is most prominent during the first week after TBI in the rat model, we hypothesized that the subacute TBI-metabolome may contain predictive markers of neurodegeneration. Sham and TBI metabolomes were examined at 72 h after a mild to moderate intensity TBI in male Sprague-Dawley rats aged P31. Sensorimotor behavior was assessed at 24, 48 and 72 h after injury, followed by 72-hour postmortem brain removal for metabolomics using Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) measurement. Broad TBI-induced metabolomic shifts occurred with relatively higher intensity in the injury-lateralized (ipsilateral) hemisphere. Intensity of metabolomic perturbation correlated with the extent of sensorimotor behavioral deficit. N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) levels at 72 h after TBI, predicted the extent of neurodegeneration assessed histochemically 7-days post TBI. Results from the multivariate untargeted approach clearly distinguished metabolomic shifts induced by TBI. Several pathways including amino acid, fatty acid and energy metabolism continued to be affected at 72 h after TBI, whose collective effects may determine the overall pathological response after TBI in early development including neurodegeneration.HighlightsLateral fluid percussion TBI (mild/moderate intensity) is highly diffusive.TBI affected bioenergetics, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism.Pathway-specific biomarker clusters depict spatial variability of TBI.Oxidative metabolism continues to be depressed at 72 h post-TBI.NAA levels predicted secondary neurodegeneration to a large extent.

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