Animal model of repeated low-level blast traumatic brain injury displays acute and chronic neurobehavioral and neuropathological changes

Arun Reddy Ravula, Jose Rodriguez, Daniel Younger, Venkatesan Perumal, Ningning Shao, Kakulavarapu V. Rama Rao, Bryan Pfister, Namas Chandra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Blast-induced neurotrauma (BINT) is not only a signature injury to soldiers in combat field and training facilities but may also a growing concern in civilian population due to recent increases in the use of improvised explosives by insurgent groups. Unlike moderate or severe BINT, repeated low-level blast (rLLB) is different in its etiology as well as pathology. Due to the constant use of heavy weaponry as part of combat readiness, rLLB usually occurs in service members undergoing training as part of combat readiness. rLLB does not display overt pathological symptoms; however, earlier studies report chronic neurocognitive changes such as altered mood, irritability, and aggressive behavior, all of which may be caused by subtle neuropathological manifestations. Current animal models of rLLB for investigation of neurobehavioral and neuropathological alterations have not been adequate and do not sufficiently represent rLLB conditions. Here, we developed a rat model of rLLB by applying controlled low-level blast pressures (<10 psi) repeated successively five times to mimic the pressures experienced by service members. Using this model, we assessed anxiety-like symptoms, motor coordination, and short-term memory as a function of time. We also examined levels of superoxide-producing enzyme NADPH oxidase, microglial activation, and reactive astrocytosis as factors likely contributing to these neurobehavioral changes. Animals exposed to rLLB displayed acute and chronic anxiety-like symptoms, motor and short-term memory impairments. These changes were paralleled by increased microglial activation and reactive astrocytosis. Conversely, animals exposed to a single low-level blast did not display significant changes. Collectively, this study demonstrates that, unlike a single low-level blast, rLLB exerts a cumulative impact on different brain regions and produces chronic neuropathological changes in so doing, may be responsible for neurobehavioral alterations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113938
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


  • Anxiety
  • Astrocytes
  • Behavioral changes
  • Blast traumatic brain injury
  • Depression
  • Microglia
  • Motor incoordination
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Occupational low level blast
  • Oxidative stress


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