Cyclosporine Treatment in Traumatic Brain Injury: Operation Brain Trauma Therapy

C. Edward Dixon, Helen M. Bramlett, W. Dalton Dietrich, Deborah A. Shear, Hong Q. Yan, Ying Deng-Bryant, Stefania Mondello, Kevin K.W. Wang, Ronald L. Hayes, Philip E. Empey, John T. Povlishock, Frank C. Tortella, Patrick M. Kochanek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Operation Brain Trauma Therapy (OBTT) is a consortium of investigators using multiple pre-clinical models of traumatic brain injury (TBI) to bring acute therapies to clinical trials. To screen therapies, we used three rat models (parasagittal fluid percussion injury [FPI], controlled cortical impact [CCI], and penetrating ballistic-like brain injury [PBBI]). We report results of the third therapy (cyclosporin-A; cyclosporine; [CsA]) tested by OBTT. At each site, rats were randomized to treatment with an identical regimen (TBI + vehicle, TBI + CsA [10 mg/kg], or TBI + CsA [20 mg/kg] given intravenously at 15 min and 24 h after injury, and sham). We assessed motor and Morris water maze (MWM) tasks over 3 weeks after TBI and lesion volume and hemispheric tissue loss at 21 days. In FPI, CsA (10 mg/kg) produced histological protection, but 20 mg/kg worsened working memory. In CCI, CsA (20 mg/kg) impaired MWM performance; surprisingly, neither dose showed benefit on any outcome. After PBBI, neither dose produced benefit on any outcome, and mortality was increased (20 mg/kg) partly caused by the solvent vehicle. In OBTT, CsA produced complex effects with histological protection at the lowest dose in the least severe model (FPI), but only deleterious effects as model severity increased (CCI and PBBI). Biomarker assessments included measurements of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1) in blood at 4 or 24 h after injury. No positive treatment effects were seen on biomarker levels in any of the models, whereas significant increases in 24 h UCH-L1 levels were seen with CsA (20 mg/kg) after CCI and 24 h GFAP levels in both CsA treated groups in the PBBI model. Lack of behavioral protection in any model, indicators of toxicity, and a narrow therapeutic index reduce enthusiasm for clinical translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-566
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • biomarker
  • calcineurin
  • controlled cortical impact
  • fluid percussion
  • neuroprotection
  • penetrating ballistic-like brain injury
  • phosphatase
  • rat
  • therapy


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