The role of monocyte and microglia interaction in the evolution of traumatic brain injury-induced neurodegeneration

Project: Research project

Project Details


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a growing and under-recognized public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention estimate that 2.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year. In fact, TBI-related healthcare costs eclipse 80 billion dollars annually. There are currently no effective therapies for TBI and supportive care remains the mainstay of treatment. The impact of TBI is highlighted not only by its high mortality but also by the significant long-term complications suffered by survivors. Even mild brain injury, or concussions, may lead to long-term neurologic impairment. The immune response to TBI plays a fundamental role in the development and progression of this subsequent neurologic impairment and represents a complex interplay between infiltrating monocytic cells and the resident immune system of the injured brain— microglia. Despite this, reciprocal action between monocytes and microglia is poorly understood and themolecular mechanisms driving their interaction remain largely unknown. Preliminary work has generated headshielded bone marrow chimeric mice allowing for the unambiguous differentiation between infiltrating monocytes and microglia after TBI. Using this model, we have shown that non-classical monocytes are essential for neutrophil recruitment into the injured brain after TBI and that their targeted depletion results in improved functional and anatomic outcomes after injury. Furthermore, this model has allowed for the sorting of isolated populations of microglia after TBI. Transcriptional profiling of these microglia has implicated longitudinal changes in microglial gene expression in the development of long-term neurodegenerative changes. Taken together, we hypothesize that infiltrating monocytes shape the microglial response to injury altering gene expression, anatomic, and functional outcomes after TBI. To test this hypothesis, we will determine whether microglia adopt a TBI-associated phenotype after TBI and whether infiltrating monocytes are required for their generation. Additionally, our Preliminary Data has identified progressively increased expression of Striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase (STEP) in microglia over the course of TBI. STEP has emerged as a key protein in several other neurocognitive disorders, but has not been investigated in TBI. We will determine whether STEP contributes to the development and degree of neurocognitive dysfunction after TBI with the use of STEP knockout mice. Lastly, we will obtain monocytes from traumatically brain injured human patients to develop a humanized mouse model of TBI. Using this model, we will determine whether autonomous changes in monocytes from TBI patients direct microglia to adopt a TBI-associated phenotype as compared to monocytes from healthy controls. Collectively, the proposed studies will identify key molecular events and pathways that govern microglia and infiltrating monocyte interaction in TBI, thus raising the potential for transformative biologic discovery and therapeutic development in TBI patients.
Effective start/end date9/1/197/31/24


  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences (5R01GM130662-05)


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