We primarily research hemorrhagic shock, traumatic brain injury, exertional rhabdomyolysis and malignant hyperthermia. Intramural collaborations include the USU Department of Military and Emergency Medicine regarding exertional rhabdomyolysis. Past extramural research collaborations have included Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
We foster student and resident research by including them in the process as their schedules allow.
A Legacy of Research
BLOOD-BASED DIPSTICK TESTS AN EFFECTIVE BIOMARKER OF TBI SEVERITY
The brain is a highly metabolically active organ. It consumes approximately 20% of the total body oxygen, required for mitochondria to produce cellular ATP. This ATP is used for cell survival and repair. Any damage to the mitochondrial ATP producing machinery is likely to induce brain damage and cognitive deficits. Therefore, early identification of mitochondrial damage and development of mitochondrial targeted therapies can lead to the effective therapeutic strategies for TBI.
In a collaborative study we found that patients with severe TBI and mitochondrial complex I deficiency in their blood had poor outcome and unfavorable neurological severity score during 18 months follow up compared with severe TBI and normal mitochondrial complex I activities.
We found that a blood-based dipstick test of mitochondrial damage can be used as an effective biomarker of brain injury severity in TBI patients.
This test requires only 50 ul blood, and can be used in the battlefield and in mass casualties to identify the changes in early mitochondrial damage due to global oxidative stress following TBI. Serial monitoring and optimization of blood C1 levels could aid in prognostication and potentially guide in using mitochondrial targeted therapies.
SERUM SEROTONIN LEVELS AS A PREDICTOR OF STRESS FOLLOWING TBI
Serotonin is commonly known as a “happy hormone”. Reduced serum serotonin has been associated with depression like symptoms in humans. Most of our service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan wars have developed overlapping PTSD-like symptoms following TBI. Therefore, it is important to identify the early biomarkers to distinguish between TBI and PTSD.
We measured serum serotonin levels in adult male SD rats at 28 day post- blast TBI. These animals were also treated with either vehicle or sodium pyruvate (1g/kg/24h) for the duration of the experiments. We found that low serum serotonin levels following long- term (28 day) effects of bTBI suggest the possibility of stress like symptoms following blast exposure. We also found that pyruvate was effective in increasing the serum serotonin by day 28 in bTBI animals, suggesting the future possibility of pyruvate treatment in stress/PTSD.
The continuous monitoring of serum serotonin levels in TBI patients can predict the future progression of stress like symptoms/PTSD. Development of future serotonin targeted therapies can be helpful in the treatment of both TBI and as well as PTSD.
"The Department of Anesthesiology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences is dedicated to research focused on operational anesthesiology including trauma and resuscitation, acute and chronic pain management, and prolonged field care and malignant hyperthermia. The research conducted by the Department of Anesthesia has a direct impact on combat casualty care."