Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Anatomy and Neurobiology

First Advisor

Dr. Patrick Sullivan


With an estimated incidence of 1.5 million each year, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States. Opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) is a key event contributing to TBI pathology. Cyclophilin D (CypD), a matrix peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase, is believed to be the regulating component of the mPTP. Cyclosporin A, an immunosuppressant drug, inhibits CypD and blocks mPTP formation and has been shown to be neuroprotective following TBI. However, it is unclear if CsA’s neuroprotective mechanism is due to inhibition of CypD and/or immuno-suppression. Therefore to directly assess the contribution of CypD to TBI pathology, CypD knockout mice were subjected to a controlled cortical impact model of TBI. CypD ablation resulted in increased tissue sparing, hippocampal protection, and improved mitochondrial complex I driven respiration. Next a dose-response study of the Cyclophilin D inhibitor, NIM811, was performed. NIM811 administration following TBI resulted in improved cognition, increased tissue sparing, and improved mitochondrial function. These results suggest a major role for CypD in TBI pathology and validate CypD as a potential therapeutic target for TBI.

TBI has been proposed to be the signature injury of the current Middle Eastern conflicts with an estimated prevalence of 15-60 % among combat soldiers. Although the brain does appear to be vulnerable to blast, the exact mechanisms underlying the injury remain unclear. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to a moderate level of blast overpressure. Following blast, blood brain barrier disruption was evident at 3 and 24 h post-exposure, oxidative damage increased at 3 h post-exposure, and microglia were activated in the hippocampus at 5 and 10 days post-exposure. This may widen future neuroprotective avenues for blast since blast brain injury appears to share similar mechanisms of injury with other TBI models.

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