Effects of mild traumatic brain injury on immunoreactivity for the inducible transcription factors c-Fos, c-Jun, JunB, and Krox-24 in cerebral regions associated with conditioned fear responding

Author(s): Abrous DN, Rodriguez J, le Moal M, Moser PC, Barnéoud P

Abstract

We have previously demonstrated that mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) of the right parietal cortex results in a relatively selective deficit in conditioned fear responding. However, this behavioural deficit is very consistent and unrelated to the extent of the cortical necrotic lesion. We were therefore interested in determining if other brain regions might show a consistent response to mild TBI, and therefore, more reliably relate to the behavioural change. Increased expression of inducible transcription factors (ITFs) has been used to study which brain regions respond to a variety of events. In the present study, we examined the expression patterns of immunoreactivity (IR) for four ITFs (c-Fos, c-Jun, JunB, and Krox-24) at 3 h after mild fluid percussion TBI. Changes in ITF expression were only observed ipsilateral to the side of TBI. The clearest changes were observed in brain regions known to be involved in conditioned fear responding, such as the amygdala complex and hippocampal formation and several cortical regions. In contrast, no changes in IR for any of the ITFs were observed in the striatum, nucleus accumbens, nucleus basalis magnocellularis, septum or periacqueductal grey. Unlike the extent of visible damage to the cortex at the site of impact, the overexpression of ITFs showed a notable consistency between animals subjected to TBI. This consistency in regions known to be involved in conditioned fear responding (i.e., amygdala complex and hippocampal formation) lead us to suggest that it is these changes, rather than the more variable cortical necrotic lesion, that is responsible for the behavioural deficits we observe following mild TBI. Importantly, our results demonstrate that like the hippocampus, the amygdala is a sub-cortical structure particularly sensitive to the effects of mild brain trauma and underline the fact that cerebral regions distant from the location of the fluid impact can be affected.

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