Traumatic brain injury (TBI) produces cytoskeletal protein derangements within cortical neurons that can be attenuated by protease inhibition

Rand Marshall Postmantur, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


TBI produces a consistent and extensive loss of neurofilament 68 (NF68) and neurofilament 200 (NF200), key intermediate cytoskeletal proteins found in neurons including axons and dendrites, in cortical samples from injured brain. The presence of low molecular weight NF68 breakdown products (BDPs) strongly suggest that calpain proteolysis at least in part contributes to neurofilament (NF) protein loss following injury. Furthermore, one and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis analyses of NF BDPs obtained from in situ and in vitro tissue also implicated the involvement of calpain 2 mediated proteolysis of neurofilaments following TBI. Immunohistochemical examination of derangements in cytoskeletal proteins following traumatic brain injury in rats indicated that preferential dendritic rather than axonal damage occurs within three hours post-TBI. Although proteolysis of cytoskeletal proteins occurred concurrently with early morphological alterations, evidence of proteolysis preceded the full expression of evolutionary histopathological changes. Furthermore, cytoskeletal immunofluorescence alterations were not restricted to the site of impact. Confocal microscopic investigations of NF68 and NF200 immunofluorescence within injured cortical neurons revealed alterations in neurofilament assembly in the absence of NF derangements detectable at the light microscopic level ($<$15 minutes post-TBI). Collectively immunohistochemistry studies suggest that derangements to neuronal processes are biochemical and evolutionary in nature, and not due solely to mechanical shearing. Importantly, a systemically administered calpain inhibitor (calpain inhibitor 2) significantly reduced NF200, NF68, and spectrin protein loss as well as providing marked preservation of NF proteins in neuronal somata, dendrites, and axons at 24 hours post-TBI.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Postmantur, Rand Marshall, "Traumatic brain injury (TBI) produces cytoskeletal protein derangements within cortical neurons that can be attenuated by protease inhibition" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9626094.