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1.  Impaired cortical mitochondrial function following TBI precedes behavioral changes 
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) pathophysiology can be attributed to either the immediate, primary physical injury, or the delayed, secondary injury which begins minutes to hours after the initial injury and can persist for several months or longer. Because these secondary cascades are delayed and last for a significant time period post-TBI, they are primary research targets for new therapeutics. To investigate changes in mitochondrial function after a brain injury, both the cortical impact site and ipsilateral hippocampus of adult male rats 7 and 17 days after a controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury were examined. State 3, state 4, and uncoupler-stimulated rates of oxygen consumption, respiratory control ratios (RCRs) were measured and membrane potential quantified, and all were significantly decreased in 7 day post-TBI cortical mitochondria. By contrast, hippocampal mitochondria at 7 days showed only non-significant decreases in rates of oxygen consumption and membrane potential. NADH oxidase activities measured in disrupted mitochondria were normal in both injured cortex and hippocampus at 7 days post-CCI. Respiratory and phosphorylation capacities at 17 days post-CCI were comparable to naïve animals for both cortical and hippocampus mitochondria. However, unlike oxidative phosphorylation, membrane potential of mitochondria in the cortical lining of the impact site did not recover at 17 days, suggesting that while diminished cortical membrane potential at 17 days does not adversely affect mitochondrial capacity to synthesize ATP, it may negatively impact other membrane potential-sensitive mitochondrial functions. Memory status, as assessed by a passive avoidance paradigm, was not significantly impaired until 17 days after injury. These results indicate pronounced disturbances in cortical mitochondrial function 7 days after CCI which precede the behavioral impairment observed at 17 days.
PMCID: PMC3912469  PMID: 24550822
traumatic brain injury; energy metabolism; mitochondria; oxidative phosphorylation; animal behavior
2.  A microplate technique to simultaneously assay calcium accumulation in endoplasmic reticulum and SERCA release of inorganic phosphate 
Traditional analyses of calcium homeostasis have separately quantified either calcium accumulation or release mechanisms. To define the system as a whole, however, requires multiple experimental techniques to examine both accumulation and release. Here we describe a technique that couples the simultaneous quantification of radio-labeled calcium accumulation in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) microsomes with the release of inorganic phosphate (Pi) by the hydrolytic activity of sarco-endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase (SERCA) all in the convenience of a 96-well format.
PMCID: PMC3388579  PMID: 22472432
Calcium; SERCA activity; Microsomes; Inorganic phosphate; Malachite green
3.  Craniotomy: True Sham for Traumatic Brain Injury, or a Sham of a Sham? 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2011;28(3):359-369.
Neurological dysfunction after traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by both the primary injury and a secondary cascade of biochemical and metabolic events. Since TBI can be caused by a variety of mechanisms, numerous models have been developed to facilitate its study. The most prevalent models are controlled cortical impact and fluid percussion injury. Both typically use “sham” (craniotomy alone) animals as controls. However, the sham operation is objectively damaging, and we hypothesized that the craniotomy itself may cause a unique brain injury distinct from the impact injury. To test this hypothesis, 38 adult female rats were assigned to one of three groups: control (anesthesia only); craniotomy performed by manual trephine; or craniotomy performed by electric dental drill. The rats were then subjected to behavioral testing, imaging analysis, and quantification of cortical concentrations of cytokines. Both craniotomy methods generate visible MRI lesions that persist for 14 days. The initial lesion generated by the drill technique is significantly larger than that generated by the trephine. Behavioral data mirrored lesion volume. For example, drill rats have significantly impaired sensory and motor responses compared to trephine or naïve rats. Finally, of the seven tested cytokines, KC-GRO and IFN-γ showed significant increases in both craniotomy models compared to naïve rats. We conclude that the traditional sham operation as a control confers profound proinflammatory, morphological, and behavioral damage, which confounds interpretation of conventional experimental brain injury models. Any experimental design incorporating “sham” procedures should distinguish among sham, experimentally injured, and healthy/naïve animals, to help reduce confounding factors.
PMCID: PMC3057208  PMID: 21190398
craniotomy; cytokines; magnetic resonance imaging; Neurological Severity Scale; traumatic brain injury
4.  The cytokine temporal profile in rat cortex after controlled cortical impact 
Cerebral inflammatory responses may initiate secondary cascades following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Changes in the expression of both cytokines and chemokines may activate, regulate, and recruit innate and adaptive immune cells associated with secondary degeneration, as well as alter a host of other cellular processes. In this study, we quantified the temporal expression of a large set of inflammatory mediators in rat cortical tissue after brain injury. Following a controlled cortical impact (CCI) on young adult male rats, cortical and hippocampal tissue of the injured hemisphere and matching contralateral material was harvested at early (4, 12, and 24 hours) and extended (3 and 7 days) time points post-procedure. Naïve rats that received only anesthesia were used as controls. Processed brain homogenates were assayed for chemokine and cytokine levels utilizing an electrochemiluminescence-based multiplex ELISA platform. The temporal profile of cortical tissue samples revealed a multi-phasic injury response following brain injury. CXCL1, IFN-γ, TNF-α levels significantly peaked at four hours post-injury compared to levels found in naïve or contralateral tissue. CXCL1, IFN-γ, and TNF-α levels were then observed to decrease at least 3-fold by 12 hours post-injury. IL-1β, IL-4, and IL-13 levels were also significantly elevated at four hours post-injury although their expression did not decrease more than 3-fold for up to 24 hours post-injury. Additionally, IL-1β and IL-4 levels displayed a biphasic temporal profile in response to injury, which may suggest their involvement in adaptive immune responses. Interestingly, peak levels of CCL2 and CCL20 were not observed until after four hours post-injury. CCL2 levels in injured cortical tissue were significantly higher than peak levels of any other inflammatory mediator measured, thus suggesting a possible use as a biomarker. Fully elucidating chemokine and cytokine signaling properties after brain injury may provide increased insight into a number of secondary cascade events that are initiated or regulated by inflammatory responses.
PMCID: PMC3265961  PMID: 22291617
traumatic brain injury; cytokines; inflammation; IL-8; inflammatory response
5.  Regulation of Akt during torpor in the hibernating ground squirrel, Ictidomys tridecemlineatus 
The 13-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) is capable of entering into extended periods of torpor during winter hibernation. The state of torpor represents a hypometabolic shift wherein the rate of oxygen consuming processes are strongly repressed in an effort to maintain cellular homeostasis as the availability of food energy becomes limited. We are interested in studying hibernation/torpor because of the robust state of tolerance to constrained oxygen delivery, oligemia, and hypothermia achieved by the tissues of hibernating mammals. The role of the serine/threonine kinase Akt (also known as PKB) has been examined in torpor in previous studies. However, this is the first study that examines the level of Akt phosphorylation in the liver during the two transition phases of the hibernation cycle: entrance into torpor, and the subsequent arousal from torpor. Our results indicate that Akt is activated in the squirrel liver by phosphorylation of two key residues (Thr308 and Ser473) during entrance into torpor and arousal from torpor. Moreover, we observed increased phosphorylation of key substrates of Akt during the two transition stages of torpor. Finally, this study reports the novel finding that PRAS40, a component of the TORC1 multi-protein complex and a potentially important modulator of metabolism, is regulated during torpor.
PMCID: PMC2957659  PMID: 20352231
Ictidomys tridecemlineatus; Hibernation; Metabolic rate depression; Akt; PRAS40; mTOR
6.  Protein SUMOylation is massively increased in hibernation torpor and is critical for the cytoprotection provided by ischemic preconditioning and hypothermia in SHSY5Y cells 
Hibernation torpor provides an excellent natural model of tolerance to profound reductions in blood flow to the brain and other organs. Here, we report that during torpor of 13-lined ground squirrels, massive SUMOylation occurs in the brain, liver, and kidney. The level of small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMO) conjugation coincides with the expression level of Ubc9, the SUMO specific E2-conjugating enzyme. Hypothermia alone also increased SUMO conjugation, but not as markedly as hibernation torpor. Increased SUMO conjugation (induced by Ubc9 overexpression, ischemic preconditioning (PC)±hypothermia) was necessary and sufficient for tolerance of SHSY5Y neuroblastoma cells to oxygen/glucose deprivation (OGD) (‘in vitro ischemia’); decreased SUMO conjugation (induced by a dominant-negative Ubc9) severely reduced tolerance to OGD in these cells. These data indicate that post-translational modification of proteins by SUMOylation is a prominent feature of hibernation torpor and is critical for cytoprotection by ischemic PC± hypothermia in SHSY5Y cells subjected to OGD.
PMCID: PMC2396349  PMID: 16955077
hypothermia; oxygen–glucose deprivation; tolerance

Results 1-6 (6)