Blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) is a "signature wound" in soldiers during training and in combat and has also become a major cause of morbidity in civilians due to increased insurgency. This work examines the role of blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption as a result of both primary biomechanical and secondary biochemical injury mechanisms in bTBI. Extravasation of sodium fluorescein (NaF) and Evans blue (EB) tracers were used to demonstrate that compromise of the BBB occurs immediately following shock loading, increases in intensity up to 4 hours and returns back to normal in 24 hours. This BBB compromise occurs in multiple regions of the brain in the anterior-posterior direction of the shock wave, with maximum extravasation seen in the frontal cortex. Compromise of the BBB is confirmed by (a) extravasation of tracers into the brain, (b) quantification of tight-junction proteins (TJPs) in the brain and the blood, and (c) tracking specific blood-borne molecules into the brain and brain-specific proteins into the blood. Taken together, this work demonstrates that the BBB compromise occurs as a part of initial biomechanical loading and is a function of increasing blast overpressures.
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