Transcriptomic Analysis of Mouse Brain After Traumatic Brain Injury Reveals That the Angiotensin Receptor Blocker Candesartan Acts Through Novel Pathways

Peter J. Attilio, Dustin M. Snapper, Milan Rusnak, Akira Isaac, Anthony R. Soltis, Matthew D. Wilkerson, Clifton L. Dalgard, Aviva J. Symes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in complex pathological reactions, where the initial lesion is followed by secondary inflammation and edema. Our laboratory and others have reported that angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) have efficacy in improving recovery from traumatic brain injury in mice. Treatment of mice with a subhypotensive dose of the ARB candesartan results in improved functional recovery, and reduced pathology (lesion volume, inflammation and gliosis). In order to gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms through which candesartan improves recovery after controlled cortical impact injury (CCI), we performed transcriptomic profiling on brain regions after injury and drug treatment. We examined RNA expression in the ipsilateral hippocampus, thalamus and hypothalamus at 3 or 29 days post injury (dpi) treated with either candesartan (0.1 mg/kg) or vehicle. RNA was isolated and analyzed by bulk mRNA-seq. Gene expression in injured and/or candesartan treated brain region was compared to that in sham vehicle treated mice in the same brain region to identify genes that were differentially expressed (DEGs) between groups. The most DEGs were expressed in the hippocampus at 3 dpi, and the number of DEGs reduced with distance and time from the lesion. Among pathways that were differentially expressed at 3 dpi after CCI, candesartan treatment altered genes involved in angiogenesis, interferon signaling, extracellular matrix regulation including integrins and chromosome maintenance and DNA replication. At 29 dpi, candesartan treatment reduced the expression of genes involved in the inflammatory response. Some changes in gene expression were confirmed in a separate cohort of animals by qPCR. Fewer DEGs were found in the thalamus, and only one in the hypothalamus at 3 dpi. Additionally, in the hippocampi of sham injured mice, 3 days of candesartan treatment led to the differential expression of 384 genes showing that candesartan in the absence of injury had a powerful impact on gene expression specifically in the hippocampus. Our results suggest that candesartan has broad actions in the brain after injury and affects different processes at acute and chronic times after injury. These data should assist in elucidating the beneficial effect of candesartan on recovery from TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number636259
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 22 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • RNA seq
  • angiotensin
  • candesartan
  • hippocampus
  • transcriptomic (RNA-Seq)
  • traumatic brain injury


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