Traumatic brain injury induced cell proliferation in the adult mammalian central nervous system.
Recent studies indicate the existence of progenitor cells and their potential for neurogenesis in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the hippocampus of the normal adult mammalian brain. However, the proliferative response and the specific cell types generated following traumatic brain injury have not been examined. This cellular response to CNS injury was investigated using the fluid percussion injury (FPI) model, a widely accepted rat model that simulates moderate head injury sustained in humans. Forty-eight hours following moderate FPI, adult rats received intraperitoneal injections of the thymidine analogs, 5-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) or tritiated thymidine (3H-thymidine), which are markers for mitotic activity. Injured and control animals receiving BrdU were used to determine the total number of cells induced to proliferate. To determine the cellular identity of these proliferating cells, animals receiving 3H-thymidine were sacrificed and sections through the injured area were immunostained with markers for immature and mature astrocytes, activated microglia, neural precursors and mature neurons. These studies showed that the total number of proliferating cells was significantly increased in the injury group for both the SVZ and the hippocampus. However, the proliferating cells in the SVZ did not express any of the cellular markers used, suggesting that they have not yet begun to differentiate. In contrast, there was a significant increase in the number of immature astrocytes and activated microglia, but not neurons, at this early time point in the hippocampus. Taken together, these experiments demonstrate the compensatory capacity of the adult brain to injury and should lead to a new generation of studies aimed at enhancing the neuronal proliferative response.