Noncontact Rotational Head Injury Produces Transient Cognitive Deficits but Lasting Neuropathological Changes

Jonathan J. Sabbagh, Sarah N. Fontaine, Lindsey B. Shelton, Laura J. Blair, Jerry B. Hunt, Bo Zhang, Joseph M. Gutmann, Daniel C. Lee, John D. Lloyd, Chad A. Dickey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is a growing problem in military settings, but modeling this disease in rodents to pre-clinically evaluate potential therapeutics has been challenging because of inconsistency between models. Although the effects of primary blast wave injury have been extensively studied, little is known regarding the effects of noncontact rotational TBIs independent of the blast wave. To model this type of injury, we generated an air cannon system that does not produce a blast wave, but generates enough air pressure to cause rotational TBI. Mice exposed to this type of injury showed deficits in cognitive and motor task acquisition within 1-2 weeks post-injury, but mice tested 7-8 weeks post-injury did not retain any deficits. This suggests that the effects of a single, noncontact rotational TBI are not long lasting. Despite the transient nature of the behavioral deficits, increased levels of phosphorylated tau were observed at 2 and 8 weeks post-injury; however, this tau did not adopt typical pathological structures that have been observed in other TBI models that incorporate blast waves. This was possibly attributed to the fact that this injury was insufficient to induce changes in microglial activation, which was not affected at 2 or 8 weeks post-injury. Taken together, these data suggest that exposure to noncontact, rotational head injury only produces transient cognitive anomalies, but elicits some minor lasting neuropathological changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1751-1760
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • animal studies
  • learning and memory
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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