A new model for mild blast injury utilizing Drosophila melanogaster

K. S. Hockey, W. B. Hubbard, V. S. Sajja, C. A. Sholar, C. Thorpe, P. J. VandeVord, B. A. Rzigalinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Current models for blast injury involve the use of mammalian species, which are costly and require extensive monitoring and housing, making it difficult to generate large numbers of injuries. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been utilized for many models of human disease including neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. In this study, a model of blast injury was designed based on Drosophila, to provide a mechanism to investigate blast injury in large numbers and assess biochemical mechanisms of brain injury. Such studies may be used to identify specific pathways involved in blast-associated neurodegeneration, allowing more effective use of mammalian models. A custom-built blast wave simulator (ORA Inc.), comprised of a driver, test section, and wave eliminator, was used to create a blast wave. An acetate membrane was placed between the driver and the rectangular test section before compressed helium caused the membrane to rupture creating the blast wave. Membrane thickness correlates with the blast wave magnitude, which averaged 120 kPa for this experiment. Pressure sensors were inserted into the side of the tube in order to quantify the level of overpressure that the flies were exposed to. Five day old flies were held in a rectangular enclosed mesh fixture (10 flies per enclosure) which was placed in the center of the test section for blast delivery. Sham controls were exposed to same conditions with exception of blast. Lifespan and negative geotaxis, a measurement of motor function, was measured in flies after blast injury. Mild blast resulted in death of 28% of the flies. In surviving flies, motor function was initially reduced, but flies regained normal function by 8 days after injury. Although surviving flies regained normal motor function, flies subjected to mild blast died earlier than uninjured controls, with a 15.4% reduction in maximum lifespan and a 17% reduction in average lifespan, mimicking the scenario observed in humans exposed to mild blast. Although further work is needed, results suggest that utilizing Drosophila as a blast model may provide a rapid, effective means of assessing physiological and biochemical changes induced by mild blast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-140
Number of pages7
JournalBiomedical Sciences Instrumentation
StatePublished - 2013


  • Blast
  • Drosophila
  • Fruit fly
  • Lifespan
  • Models
  • Motor function
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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