Blast overpressure induces shear-related injuries in the brain of rats exposed to a mild traumatic brain injury

Miguel A.Gama Sosa*, Rita De Gasperi, Alejandro J. Paulino, Paul E. Pricop, Michael C. Shaughness, Eric Maudlin-Jeronimo, Aaron A. Hall, William G.M. Janssen, Frank J. Yuk, Nathan P. Dorr, Dara L. Dickstein, Richard M. McCarron, Mikulas Chavko, Patrick R. Hof, Stephen T. Ahlers, Gregory A. Elder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Background: Blast-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been a significant cause of injury in the military operations of Iraq and Afghanistan, affecting as many as 10-20% of returning veterans. However, how blast waves affect the brain is poorly understood. To understand their effects, we analyzed the brains of rats exposed to single or multiple (three) 74.5 kPa blast exposures, conditions that mimic a mild TBI. Results: Rats were sacrificed 24 hours or between 4 and 10 months after exposure. Intraventricular hemorrhages were commonly observed after 24 hrs. A screen for neuropathology did not reveal any generalized histopathology. However, focal lesions resembling rips or tears in the tissue were found in many brains. These lesions disrupted cortical organization resulting in some cases in unusual tissue realignments. The lesions frequently appeared to follow the lines of penetrating cortical vessels and microhemorrhages were found within some but not most acute lesions. Conclusions: These lesions likely represent a type of shear injury that is unique to blast trauma. The observation that lesions often appeared to follow penetrating cortical vessels suggests a vascular mechanism of injury and that blood vessels may represent the fault lines along which the most damaging effect of the blast pressure is transmitted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number51
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 27 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Blast overpressure injury
  • Neuropathology
  • Shear injury
  • Traumatic brain injury


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