Post-traumatic hypoxia exacerbates neuronal cell death in the hippocampus

Jun Feng Feng, Xueren Zhao, Gene G Gurkoff, Ken C. Van, Kiarash Shahlaie, Bruce G Lyeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Hypoxia frequently occurs in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. This study examined the effects of immediate or delayed post-traumatic hypoxia (fraction of inspired oxygen [FiO 2] 11%) on acute neuronal degeneration and long-term neuronal survival in hippocampal fields after moderate fluid percussion injury in rats. In Experiment 1, hypoxia was induced for 15 or 30min alone or immediately following TBI. In Experiments 2 and 3, 30min of hypoxia was induced immediately after TBI or delayed until 60min after TBI. In Experiment 1, acute neurodegeneration was evaluated in the hippocampal fields 24h after insults using Fluoro-Jade staining and stereological quantification. During hypoxia alone, or in combination with TBI, mean arterial blood pressure was significantly reduced by approximately 30%, followed by a rapid return to normal values upon return to pre-injury FiO 2. Hypoxia alone failed to cause hippocampal neuronal degeneration when measured at 24h after insult. TBI alone resulted in neuronal degeneration in each ipsilateral hippocampal field, predominantly in CA2-CA3 and the dentate gyrus. Compared to TBI alone, TBI plus immediate hypoxia for either 15 or 30min significantly increased neuronal loss in most ipsilateral hippocampal fields and in the contralateral hilus and dentate gyrus. In Experiment 2, TBI plus hypoxia delayed 30min significantly increased degeneration only in ipsilateral CA2-CA3. In Experiment 3, 30min of immediate hypoxia significantly reduced the numbers of surviving neurons in the CA3 at 14 days after TBI. The greatly increased vulnerability in all hippocampal fields by immediate 30min post-traumatic hypoxia provides a relevant model of TBI complicated with hypoxia/hypotension. These data underscore the significance of the secondary insult, the necessity to better characterize the range of injuries experienced by the TBI patient, and the importance of strictly avoiding hypoxia in the early management of TBI patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1179
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 10 2012


  • hippocampal fields
  • hippocampus
  • hypoxia
  • neuronal degeneration
  • neuronal survival
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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