A new weight-drop head-injury apparatus is described that can produce a momentary depression of predetermined depth at a predetermined site of the elastic calvaria of scalped young adult rats. In Wistar rats weighing about 200 g, a 0.75-mm deep calvaria depression immediately caused ultrastructural (neurofilament) compaction in many long axon segments, which were diffusely scattered among non-compacted axons in a well-defined area of cortical layers IV and V under the impact site. Apart from these morphological changes and swollen astrocytic processes in their vicinity, the brain tissue appeared non-impaired. The blood pressure, intracranial pressure, heart rate and respiration rate had returned to the normal range in 1 min. Diffuse axonal swelling caused by impaired axonal transport, ultrastructural compaction in neuronal soma-dendrite domains, impression fracture and subarachnoid or subdural hemorrhages were observed only in rats with a calvaria depression of 1 mm or more. All these features create favorable circumstances for study of various problems that are closely related to the ultrastructural (neurofilament) compaction in axons, such as the fate of the affected axons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas