Glibenclamide pretreatment protects against chronic memory dysfunction and glial activation in rat cranial blast traumatic brain injury
Blast traumatic brain injury (bTBI) affects both military and civilian populations, and often results in chronic deficits in cognition and memory. Chronic glial activation after bTBI has been linked with cognitive decline. Pharmacological inhibition of sulfonylurea receptor 1 (SUR1) with glibenclamide was shown previously to reduce glial activation and improve cognition in contusive models of CNS trauma, but has not been examined in bTBI. We postulated that glibenclamide would reduce chronic glial activation and improve long-term memory function after bTBI. Using a rat direct cranial model of bTBI (dc-bTBI), we evaluated the efficacy of two glibenclamide treatment paradigms: glibenclamide prophylaxis (pre-treatment), and treatment with glibenclamide starting after dc-bTBI (post-treatment). Our results show that dc-bTBI caused hippocampal astrocyte and microglial/macrophage activation that was associated with hippocampal memory dysfunction (rapid place learning paradigm) at 28 days, and that glibenclamide pre-treatment, but not post-treatment, effectively protected against glial activation and memory dysfunction. We also report that a brief transient time-window of blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption occurs after dc-bTBI, and we speculate that glibenclamide, which is mostly protein bound and does not normally traverse the intact BBB, can undergo CNS delivery only during this brief transient opening of the BBB. Together, our findings indicate that prophylactic glibenclamide treatment may help to protect against chronic cognitive sequelae of bTBI in warfighters and other at-risk populations.