Developmental traumatic brain injury decreased brain derived neurotrophic factor expression late after injury

Abstract Pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of acquired cognitive dysfunction in children. Hippocampal Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is important for normal cognition. Little is known about the effects of TBI on BDNF levels in the developing hippocampus. We used controlled cortical impact (CCI) in the 17 day old rat pup to test the hypothesis that CCI would first increase rat hippocampal BDNF mRNA/protein levels relative to SHAM and Naïve rats by post injury day (PID) 2 and then decrease BDNF mRNA/protein by PID14. Relative to SHAM, CCI did not change BDNF mRNA/protein levels in the injured hippocampus in the first 2 days after injury but did decrease BDNF protein at PID14. Surprisingly, BDNF mRNA decreased at PID 1, 3, 7 and 14, and BDNF protein decreased at PID 2, in SHAM and CCI hippocampi relative to Naïve. In conclusion, TBI decreased BDNF protein in the injured rat pup hippocampus 14 days after injury. BDNF mRNA levels decreased in both CCI and SHAM hippocampi relative to Naïve, suggesting that certain aspects of the experimental paradigm (such as craniotomy, anesthesia, and/or maternal separation) may decrease the expression of BDNF in the developing hippocampus. While BDNF is important for normal cognition, no inferences can be made regarding the cognitive impact of any of these factors. Such findings, however, suggest that meticulous attention to the experimental paradigm, and possible inclusion of a Naïve group, is warranted in studies of BDNF expression in the developing brain after TBI.