Defining the biomechanical and biological threshold of murine mild traumatic brain injury using CHIMERA (Closed Head Impact Model of Engineered Rotational Acceleration)
CHIMERA (Closed Head Impact Model of Engineered Rotational Acceleration) is a recently described animal model of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that primarily produces diffuse axonal injury (DAI) characterized by white matter inflammation and axonal damage. CHIMERA was specifically designed to reliably generate a variety of TBI severities using precise and quantifiable biomechanical inputs in a nonsurgical user-friendly platform. The objective of this study was to define the lower limit of single impact mild TBI (mTBI) using CHIMERA by characterizing the dose-response relationship between biomechanical input and neurological, behavioral, neuropathological and biochemical outcomes. Wild-type male mice were subjected to a single CHIMERA TBI using six impact energies ranging from 0.1 to 0.7 J, and post-TBI outcomes were assessed over an acute period of 14 days. Here we report that single TBI using CHIMERA induces injury dose- and time-dependent changes in behavioral and neurological deficits, axonal damage, white matter tract microgliosis and astrogliosis. Impact energies of 0.4 J or below produced no significant phenotype (subthreshold), 0.5 J led to significant changes for one or more phenotypes (threshold), and 0.6 and 0.7 J resulted in significant changes in all outcomes assessed (mTBI). We further show that linear head kinematics are the most robust predictors of duration of unconsciousness, severity of neurological deficits, white matter injury, and microgliosis following single TBI. Our data extend the validation of CHIMERA as a biofidelic animal model of DAI and establish working parameters to guide future investigations of the mechanisms underlying axonal pathology and inflammation induced by mechanical trauma.