‘Resetting’ the injured brain offers clues for concussion and TBI treatment

New research in mice raises the prospects for development of post-concussion therapies that could ward off cognitive decline and depression, two common conditions among people who have experienced a moderate traumatic brain injury.
The study, led by Jonathan Godbout, PhD, professor of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, clarified the role of specific immune cells in the brain that contribute to chronic inflammation. Using a technique called forced cell turnover, he and his team of researchers eliminated these cells in the injured brains of mice for a week and then let them repopulate for two weeks.
"It’s almost like hitting the reset button," Dr. Godbout says. “Compared to brain-injured mice recovering naturally, mice that were given the intervention showed less inflammation in the brain and fewer signs of thinking problems 30 days after the injury.”
Though temporarily clearing away these cells, called microglia, in humans isn’t yet feasible, the findings shed light on pathways to target that could lower the brain’s overall inflammatory profile after a concussion, potentially reducing the risk for behavioral and cognitive problems long after the injury. 

Dr. Godbout says that damage from a moderate brain injury often doesn’t show up on a CT scan. Patients are often released from the hospital with a concussion protocol but develop complications down the road. The ability to proactively address inflammation might dramatically lessen longer-term effects.

“Sometimes people come back weeks, months later with neuropsychiatric issues,” says Dr. Godbout, who also serves faculty director of Ohio State’s Chronic Brain Injury Program and assistant director of basic science in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.
The research is published online in the Journal of Neuroscience. Read more (external link).