A striking observation among veterans returning from the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the co-occurrence of blast-related mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD and mTBI might coexist due to additive effects of independent psychological and physical traumas experienced in a war zone. Alternatively blast injury might induce PTSD-related traits or damage brain structures that mediate responses to psychological stressors, increasing the likelihood that PTSD will develop following a subsequent psychological stressor. Rats exposed to repetitive low-level blasts consisting of three 74.5 kPa exposures delivered once daily for three consecutive days develop a variety of anxiety and PTSD-related behavioral traits that are present for at least 9 months after blast exposure. A single predator scent challenge delivered 8 months after the last blast exposure induces additional anxiety-related changes that are still present 45 days later. Because the blast injuries occur under general anesthesia, it appears that blast exposure in the absence of a psychological stressor can induce chronic PTSD-related traits. The reaction to a predator scent challenge delivered many months after blast exposure suggests that blast exposure in addition sensitizes the brain to react abnormally to subsequent psychological stressors. The development of PTSD-related behavioral traits in the absence of a psychological stressor suggests the existence of blast-induced “PTSD”. Findings that PTSD-related behavioral traits can be reversed by BCI-838, a group II metabotropic glutamate receptor antagonist offers insight into pathogenesis and possible treatment options for blast-related brain injury. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled “Novel Treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury”.
- Animal models
- Metabotropic glutamate receptor
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Postconcussion syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury