Immune Response Mediates Cardiac Dysfunction after Traumatic Brain Injury

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Journal of neurotrauma


Cardiovascular complications are common after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. In this study, we investigated the possible role of the immune system in mediating cardiac dysfunction post-TBI in mice. Adult male C57BL/6J mice were subjected to a TBI model of controlled cortical impact (CCI) with or without splenectomy (n = 20/group). Splenectomy was performed immediately prior to induction of TBI. Cardiac function was measured using echocardiography prior to and after TBI. Neurological and cognitive functional tests and flow cytometry and immunostaining were performed. TBI mice exhibited significant cardiac dysfunction identified by decreased left ventricular ejection fraction and fractional shortening at 3 and 30 days post-TBI. In addition, these mice exhibited significantly increased cardiomyocyte apoptosis, inflammation, and oxidative stress at 3 and 30 days post-TBI, as well as cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis and ventricular dilatation at 30 days after TBI. TBI mice subjected to splenectomy showed significantly improved cardiac function, and decreased cardiac fibrosis, oxidative stress, cardiomyocyte apoptosis, and infiltration of immune cells and inflammatory factor expression in the heart compared with TBI control mice. TBI mice exhibited severe neurological and cognitive function deficits. However, splenectomy did not improve neurological and cognitive functional outcome after TBI compared with the TBI control group. TBI induces immune cell infiltration and inflammatory factor expression in the heart as well as cardiac dysfunction. Splenectomy decreases heart inflammation and improves cardiac function after TBI. Immune response may contribute to TBI-induced cardiac dysfunction.

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