Rat injury model under controlled field-relevant primary blast conditions: Acute response to a wide range of peak overpressures

MacIej Skotak, Fang Wang, Aaron Alai, Aaron Holmberg, Seth Harris, Robert C. Switzer, Namas Chandra

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71 Scopus citations


We evaluated the acute (up to 24 h) pathophysiological response to primary blast using a rat model and helium driven shock tube. The shock tube generates animal loadings with controlled pure primary blast parameters over a wide range and field-relevant conditions. We studied the biomechanical loading with a set of pressure gauges mounted on the surface of the nose, in the cranial space, and in the thoracic cavity of cadaver rats. Anesthetized rats were exposed to a single blast at precisely controlled five peak overpressures over a wide range (130, 190, 230, 250, and 290 kPa). We observed 0% mortality rates in 130 and 230 kPa groups, and 30%, 24%, and 100% mortality rates in 190, 250, and 290 kPa groups, respectively. The body weight loss was statistically significant in 190 and 250 kPa groups 24 h after exposure. The data analysis showed the magnitude of peak-to-peak amplitude of intracranial pressure (ICP) fluctuations correlates well with mortality rates. The ICP oscillations recorded for 190, 250, and 290 kPa are characterized by higher frequency (10-20 kHz) than in other two groups (7-8 kHz). We noted acute bradycardia and lung hemorrhage in all groups of rats subjected to the blast. We established the onset of both corresponds to 110 kPa peak overpressure. The immunostaining against immunoglobulin G (IgG) of brain sections of rats sacrificed 24-h post-exposure indicated the diffuse blood-brain barrier breakdown in the brain parenchyma. At high blast intensities (peak overpressure of 190 kPa or more), the IgG uptake by neurons was evident, but there was no evidence of neurodegeneration after 24 h post-exposure, as indicated by cupric silver staining. We observed that the acute response as well as mortality is a non-linear function over the peak overpressure and impulse ranges explored in this work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1160
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology


  • cellular membrane permeability
  • lung injury
  • mortality
  • pathophysiological response
  • primary blast
  • traumatic brain injury


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