MODELS OF TBI in the ferret and comparison with human pathology

The interests in this laboratory center on the effect of mild TBI on the ferret. In studying mild TBI, the primarily focus is on the effects of blast injury. Explosive blast has become one of the signature injuries for warfighters involved in recent US conflicts. Despite the number of people involved, very little is known about the pathophysiology underlying this injury. The ferret as an animal model is interesting and important to use in this regard as the smallest mammal with a convoluted cerebral cortex. Using the ferret in blast injury studies reveals a number of features that differ from those evoked after similar injuries in a rodent. Efforts are focused on inflammatory markers, behavioral changes, and abnormally expressed tau proteins.

The TBI project also involves collaboration with NIH researchers using advanced imaging techniques to correlate MRI, DTI, and complex analysis of MRI derived images with underlying structure. More recently we have been studying the effects of combined injury on behavioral outcomes along with cellular and biochemical alterations after TBI.

We also study the effect of TBI on the vasculature and surrounding astrocytes, which undergo substantial morphologic changes after blast injury. This project has recently expanded to include comparison of the ferret with the human brain’s changes in astrocytic reactivity after blast injury.