Background: Evidence suggests that mild TBI injuries, which comprise > 75% of all TBIs, can cause chronic post-concussive symptoms, especially when experienced repetitively (rTBI). rTBI is a major cause of cognitive deficit in athletes and military personnel and is associated with neurovascular changes. Current methods to monitor neurovascular changes in detail are prohibitively expensive and invasive for patients with mild injuries.
New method: We evaluated the potential of multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) to monitor neurovascular changes and assess therapeutic strategies in a mouse model of rTBI. Mice were subjected to rTBI or sham via controlled cortical impact and administered pioglitazone (PG) or vehicle. Oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin were monitored using MSOT. Indocyanine green clearance was imaged via MSOT to evaluate blood-brain-barrier (BBB) integrity.
Results: Mice subjected to rTBI show a transient increase in oxygenated/total hemoglobin ratio which can be mitigated by PG administration. rTBI mice also show BBB disruption shortly after injury and reduction of oxygenated/total hemoglobin in the chronic stage, neither of which were affected by PG intervention.
Comparison with existing methods: MSOT imaging has the potential as a noninvasive in vivo imaging method to monitor neurovascular changes and assess therapeutics in mouse models of rTBI. In comparison to standard methods of tracking inflammation and BBB disruption, MSOT can be used multiple times throughout the course of injury without the need for surgery. Thus, MSOT is especially useful in research of rTBI models for screening therapeutics, and with further technological improvements may be extended for use in rTBI patients.