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The effect of traumatic brain injury in experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease


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Collins, JM 2016 , 'The effect of traumatic brain injury in experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause persistent cognitive changes and ongoing
neurodegeneration in the brain. Accumulating epidemiological and pathological
evidence implicates TBI in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Furthermore,
repetitive TBI is shown to cause the neurodegenerative condition chronic traumatic
encephalopathy, which has many clinical and pathological similarities to AD.
AD is characterized by three main pathological hallmarks: extracellular plaques
composed of beta-amyloid (Aβ), dystrophic neurites and intracellular neurofibrillary
tangles composed of tau. The amyloid cascade hypothesis posits that the accumulation
of Aβ in the brain is a principal factor in AD pathogenesis, and genetic mutations
causing enhanced Aβ formation result in early-onset AD.
Aβ plaques have been demonstrated in approximately 30% of severe TBI cases,
however the effects of mild/moderate non-fatal TBI on Aβ plaque deposition remains
unclear. Furthermore, the underlying mechanisms and risk factors for Aβ plaque
deposition after TBI are unknown. Thus, this thesis investigated the effects of a single
TBI on the onset and progression of Aβ plaque deposition in the APPswe/PS1dE9
(APP/PS1) transgenic mouse model of AD.
Two models of TBI were utilized in this thesis. The first model was a focal cortical
brain injury, which involved the insertion of a needle into the somatosensory cortex of
the brain, inducing localized structural brain damage with minimal secondary
pathology. The results demonstrated that focal cortical brain injury before the onset of
plaque deposition and mid-way into deposition did not alter Aβ plaque load post-injury.
Furthermore, these studies indicated that APP/PS1 mice with established amyloidosis
have the same microglial, astrocytic and synaptic responses to focal cortical brain injury
as wild type mice, despite the presence of AD-related neuropathology.
The second model of TBI utilized in this thesis was the lateral fluid percussion injury
(LFPI) which produces widespread diffuse brain damage with evolving secondary
pathology such as diffuse axonal injury (DAI). These studies demonstrated that LFPI
prior to the onset of Aβ plaque deposition caused an increase in plaque load after injury, whereas LFPI during Aβ plaque deposition caused a decrease in plaque load postinjury.
Thus, the results indicated that the stage of amyloidosis at the time of LFPI
affected whether Aβ plaque deposition was enhanced or reduced in APP/PS1 mice after
injury. Furthermore, as LFPI but not focal cortical brain injury altered Aβ plaque
deposition after injury, the results indicate that diffuse TBI may be required for the
modulation of Aβ plaque deposition after injury.
DAI can result in impaired axonal transport and the intra-axonal accumulation of
amyloid precursor protein (APP). Impaired axonal transport is caused by TBI-induced
cytoskeletal damage and may be a potential mechanism for post-injury Aβ plaque
formation. Neurofilaments are an integral part of the axonal cytoskeleton and undergo
various pathological changes following TBI however, the role of NF in DAI and
impaired axonal transport is unclear. Thus, the final study in this thesis investigated the
effect of altering the NF cytoskeleton on the axonal response to injury. The results
demonstrated that genetically altered mice lacking NF light gene showed an increased
number of axonal APP accumulations, indicating higher levels of impaired axonal
transport and thus DAI following LFPI.
The research in this thesis provides insight into the effects of different types of TBI on
Aβ plaque dynamics. The results indicated that diffuse but not focal TBI can alter Aβ
plaque deposition after injury and that this modulation is dependent on the stage of
amyloidosis at the time of injury. Lastly, this thesis demonstrated that the axonal
cytoskeleton is important in the axonal response to TBI and may be a potential
therapeutic target.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Collins, JM
Keywords: Brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, beta amyloid, plaques
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2015 the author

Additional Information:

Part of the work submitted in this thesis has been published as follows: Collins, J. M., King, A. E., Woodhouse, A., Kirkcaldie, M. T. & Vickers, J. C. 2015. The effect of focal brain injury on beta-amyloid plaque deposition, inflammation and synapses in the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Experimental neurology, 267, 219-29.

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