In Vitro Studies of Primary Explosive Blast Loading on Neurons

Report No. ARL-RP-0542
Authors: Nicole E Zander; Thuvan Piehler; Mary E Boggs; Rohan Banton; Richard Benjamin
Date/Pages: September 2015; 16 pages
Abstract: In a military setting, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is frequently caused by blast waves that can trigger a series of neuronal biochemical changes. Although many animal models have been used to study the effects of primary blast waves, elucidating the mechanisms of damage in a whole-animal model is extremely complex. In vitro models of primary blast, which allow for the deconvolution of mechanisms, are relatively scarce. It is largely unknown how structural damage at the cellular level impacts the functional activity at variable time scales after the TBI event. A novel in vitro system was developed to probe the effects of explosive blast (ranging from ~25 to 40 psi) on dissociated neurons. PC12 neurons were cultured on laminin-coated substrates, submerged underwater, and subjected to single and multiple blasts in a controlled environment. Changes in cell membrane permeability, viability, and cell morphology were evaluated. Significant increases in axonal beading were observed in the injured cells. In addition, although cell death was minimal after a single insult, cell viability decreased significantly following repeated blast exposure.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2015