Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Mark A. Lovell


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a prominent disease in developed countries, and age is an important factor in functional outcome. Although aged patients typically show diminished recovery compared to young patients, and have higher mortality and morbidity following TBI, the mechanism is not well understood. To date, there is no effective therapeutic for TBI. Previous studies indicate a secondary injury in TBI begins immediately after impact, and is likely the major contribution to delayed neuron dysfunction and loss. Studies also suggest mitochondrial dysfunction and increased free radical species (ROS) production following TBI may play a key role in the process. To evaluate oxidative damage following TBI, especially in aging, young (3 months), middle aged (12 months) and aged (22 months) Fisher-344 rats were subjected to a unilateral controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury, and tissue sparing, 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE) and acrolein levels, and antioxidant enzyme activities, and DNA oxidative damage were measured. In order to evaluate changes in mitochondria following TBI, mitochondrial protein levels were investigated using young adult animals. To evaluate a potential therapeutic for TBI, the effect of creatine on oxidative damage was evaluated. These studies show an age dependent increase of oxidative damage following TBI, demonstrated by increased levels of 4-HNE, acrolein and 8-hydroxyguanine. Middle aged and aged animals showed increased tissue loss compared to young animals 7 days post injury. Mitochondrial proteins involved in the respiratory chain, carrier proteins and channel proteins were significantly decreased 24 h post injury in ipsilateral cortex, but increased in both ipsilateral and contralateral hippocampus. To study potentially protective compounds in TBI, animals were fed with creatine two weeks before TBI and showed less oxidative damage and increased antioxidant capacity, which suggests creatine may be a potential drug for clinical treatment of TBI. The work described in this dissertation is the first to show increased oxidative damage and diminished antioxidant capacity in TBI in aging. The study of mitochondriafollowing TBI using quantitative proteomics is also the first time to show multiple mitochondrial proteins change following TBI. These data are also the first to show creatine can increase antioxidant defenses. These studies contribute to our understanding the mechanisms of secondary injury in TBI in aging.



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