IPA: Psychological Deficits After Low Level Blast Exposure: Role Of Neurovascular Disruption

Grants and Contracts Details


Many Veterans experience occupational exposure to low-level blast (LLB) during normal training operations, including but not limited to breaching activity. These Veterans are at increased risk for persisting neuropsychological impairment due to repeated LLB exposure over several deployments with limited time for recovery between exposures. The extent of the long-term consequences after cumulative LLB exposure is unknown, though reports show that deficits can be present late in life. Furthermore, the resultant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-related behavioral deficits are more pronounced in soldiers and Veterans with a history of chronic blast exposure. There is no clear understanding of which pathological mechanisms drive this chronic PTSD phenotype after LLB exposure. A few animal models have been established to address this incomplete understanding of the pathobiological mechanisms underlying LLB exposure. These models replicate the chronic depressive, anxiogenic, and PTSD-related traits observed in Veterans, though there are many knowledge gaps in what contributes to these chronic deficits. In general, blast exposure causes acute blood-brain barrier (BBB) and neurovascular unit abnormalities that can persist over time. The overall objective of this application is to determine the timing of acute neurovascular dysfunction after LLB and how repeating LLB contributes to chronic neurovascular impairment and neuropsychological deficits. Our central hypothesis is that LLB repeated at a time interval of maximal BBB impairment, after the first LLB, will result in persistent PTSD-like behavioral traits. Additionally, these deficits will be associated with changes in the profile of serum-derived exosomal miRNAs and platelet bioenergetics. These hypotheses were formulated based on current literature and our own published and preliminary data demonstrating anxiety and amygdalar BBB disruption after blast exposure. By utilizing a multimodal blast simulator at the University of Kentucky, these studies will be able to examine the longitudinal behavioral profile, coupled with pathologically relevant biomarkers. These hypotheses will be tested in three specific aims: 1) examine acute neurovascular deficits after a single LLB exposure and determine their relationship to longitudinal behavioral traits, 2) determine how repeating LLB at various time intervals, based on the acute neurovascular profile, contributes to exacerbated or prolonged PTSD-like behavioral traits and chronic neurovascular impairment, 3) identify if modulating either acute or chronic neurovascular health using sildenafil will mitigate long-term PTSD-like behavioral traits. This research will drastically improve our understanding of the effects of LLB as well as potentially identify novel, clinically-relevant biomarkers.
Effective start/end date5/1/2412/31/24


  • Veterans Affairs: $54,751.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.