Glutamate antagonism during secondary deafferentation enhances cognition and axo-dendritic integrity after traumatic brain injury

L. L. Phillips, Bruce G Lyeth, R. J. Hamm, T. M. Reeves, J. T. Povlishock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The combination of central fluid percussion traumatic brain injury (TBI) followed 24 h later by a bilateral entorhinal cortical deafferentation (BEC) produces profound cognitive morbidity. We recently showed that MK-801 given prior to TBI in this insult improved spatial memory for up to 15 days. In the present study we examine whether MK-801 treatment of the BEC component in the combined insult model affects cognitive recovery. Two strategies for drug treatment were tested. Fifteen minutes prior to the BEC lesion in the combined insult, rats were given i.p. doses of either 3 mg/kg (acute group) or 1 mg/kg (chronic group) MK-801. The acute group received no further injections, whereas the chronic group received 1 mg/kg MK-801 i.p. twice a day for 2 days post-BEC lesion. Two additional groups of animals received BEC lesion alone and either acute or chronic MK-801 treatment identical with the combined insult cases. Each group was then assessed for spatial memory deficits with the Morris water maze at days 11-15 and 60-64 postinjury. Both acute and chronic MK-801 treatment in the combined insult group significantly reduced spatial memory deficits at 15 days postinjury relative to untreated injured cases (P < .01). This reduction appeared more robust at 15 days and persisted for up to 64 days in the chronically treated group (P < .05). By contrast, neither acute nor chronic MK-801 treatment affected memory performance with the BEC insult alone. Immunocytochemical localization of parvalbumin showed that chronic administration of MK-801 in the combined insult cases attenuated the injury-induced dendritic atrophy of inhibitory neurons in the dentate gyrus and area CA1. Synaptophysin immunobinding revealed that chronic MK-801 treatment of the BEC component of the combined insult normalized the distribution of presynaptic terminals within the dentate gyrus. These results suggest that cognitive deficits produced by head trauma involving both neuroexcitation and deafferentation can be attenuated with chronic application of glutamatergic antagonists during the period of deafferentation injury and that this attenuation is correlated with axo-dendritic integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-401
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Deafferentation
  • Neuroexcitation
  • Receptor antagonists
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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