Recent observations concerning presumed calcium-induced mitochondrial damage and focal intraaxonal proteolysis in the pathogenesis of traumatic axonal injury (TAI) have opened new perspectives for therapeutic intervention. Studies from our laboratory demonstrated that cyclosporin A (CsA), a potent inhibitor of Ca2+-induced mitochondrial damage, administered 30 min prior to traumatic brain injury preserved mitochondrial integrity in those axonal foci destined to undergo delayed disconnection. We attributed this neuroprotection to the inhibition by CsA of mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT). Additional experiments proved that CsA pretreatment also significantly reduced calcium-induced, calpain-mediated spectrin proteolysis (CMSP) and neurofilament compaction (NFC), pivotal events in the pathogenesis of axonal failure and disconnection. Given these provocative findings the goal of the current study was to evaluate the potential of CsA to inhibit calcium-induced axonal damage in a more clinically relevant postinjury treatment paradigm. To this end, cyclosporin A was administered intrathecally to Sprague Dawley rats 30 min following impact acceleration traumatic brain injury. The first group of animals were sacrificed 120 min postinjury and the density of CMSP and NFC immunoreactive damaged axonal segments of CsA-treated and vehicle-treated injured animals were quantitatively analyzed. A second group of CsA- versus vehicle-treated rats was sacrificed at 24 h postinjury to compare the density of damaged axons displaying beta amyloid precursor protein (APP) immunoreactivity, a signature protein of axonal perturbation and disconnection. Postinjury CsA administration resulted in a significant decrease (>60%) in CMSP/NFC immunoreactivity in corticospinal tracts and medial longitudinal fasciculi. A similar decrease was detected in the density of APP immunoreactive damaged axons, indicating an attenuation of axonal disconnection at 24 h postinjury in CsA-treated animals. These results once again suggest that the maintenance of the functional integrity of the mitochondria can prevent TAI, presumably via the preservation of the local energy homeostasis of the axon. Moreover and perhaps more importantly, these studies also demonstrate the efficacy of CsA administration when given in the early posttraumatic period. Collectively, our findings suggest that a therapeutic window exists for the use of drugs targeting mitochondria and energy regulation in traumatic brain injury.
- Axonal injury
- Cylosporin A
- Mitochondrial permeability transition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology