• Acute colitis during chronic experimental traumatic brain injury in mice induces dysautonomia and persistent extraintestinal, systemic, and CNS inflammation with exacerbated neurological deficits

      Hanscom, M.; Loane, D.J.; Aubretch, T.; Leser, J.; Molesworth, K.; Hedgekar, N.; Ritzel, R.M.; Abulwerdi, G.; Shea-Donohue, T.; Faden, A.I. (Springer Nature, 2021-01-18)
      Background: Disruptions of brain-gut axis have been implicated in the progression of a variety of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and central nervous system (CNS) diseases and injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI is a chronic disease process characterized by persistent secondary injury processes which can be exacerbated by subsequent challenges. Enteric pathogen infection during chronic TBI worsened cortical lesion volume; however, the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the damaging effects of enteric challenge during chronic TBI remain unknown. This preclinical study examined the effect of intestinal inflammation during chronic TBI on associated neurobehavioral and neuropathological outcomes, systemic inflammation, and dysautonomia. Methods: Dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) was administered to adult male C57BL/6NCrl mice 28 days following craniotomy (Sham) or TBI for 7 days to induce intestinal inflammation, followed by a return to normal drinking water for an additional 7 to 28 days for recovery; uninjured animals (Naïve) served as an additional control group. Behavioral testing was carried out prior to, during, and following DSS administration to assess changes in motor and cognitive function, social behavior, and mood. Electrocardiography was performed to examine autonomic balance. Brains were collected for histological and molecular analyses of injury lesion, neurodegeneration, and neuroinflammation. Blood, colons, spleens, mesenteric lymph nodes (mLNs), and thymus were collected for morphometric analyses and/or immune characterization by flow cytometry. Results: Intestinal inflammation 28 days after craniotomy or TBI persistently induced, or exacerbated, respectively, deficits in fine motor coordination, cognition, social behavior, and anxiety-like behavior. Behavioral changes were associated with an induction, or exacerbation, of hippocampal neuronal cell loss and microglial activation in Sham and TBI mice administered DSS, respectively. Acute DSS administration resulted in a sustained systemic immune response with increases in myeloid cells in blood and spleen, as well as myeloid cells and lymphocytes in mesenteric lymph nodes. Dysautonomia was also induced in Sham and TBI mice administered DSS, with increased sympathetic tone beginning during DSS administration and persisting through the first recovery week. Conclusion: Intestinal inflammation during chronic experimental TBI causes a sustained systemic immune response and altered autonomic balance that are associated with microglial activation, increased neurodegeneration, and persistent neurological deficits. Copyright 2021, The Author(s).