Journal of neuroscience research

Neuronal loss as evidenced by automated quantification of neuronal density following moderate and severe traumatic brain injury in rats.

PMID 26451689


Traumatic brain injury causes widespread neurological lesions that can be reproduced in animals with the lateral fluid percussion (LFP) model. The characterization of the pattern of neuronal death generated in this model remains unclear, involving both cortical and subcortical brain regions. Here, 7 days after moderate (3 atmospheres absolute [ATA]) or severe (3.8 ATA) LFP, we estimated neuronal loss by using immunohistochemistry together with a computer-assisted automated method for quantifying neuronal density in brain sections. Neuronal counts were performed ipsilateral to the impact, in the parietal cortex ventral to the site of percussion, in the temporal cortex, in the dorsal thalamus, and in the hippocampus. These results were compared with the counts observed at similar areas in sham animals. We found that neuronal density was severely decreased in the temporal cortex (-60%), in the dorsal thalamus (-63%), and in area CA3 of the hippocampus (-36%) of injured animals compared with controls but was not significantly modified in the cortices located immediately ventral to the impact. Total cellular density increased in brain structures displaying neuronal death, suggesting the presence of gliosis. The increase in the severity of LFP did not change the pattern of neuronal injury. This automated method simplified the study of neuronal loss following traumatic brain injury and allowed the identification of a pattern of neuronal loss that spreads from the dorsal thalamus to the temporal cortex, with the most severe lesions being in brain structures remote from the site of impact.