Behavioral deficits and axonal injury persistence after rotational head injury are direction dependent

Sarah Sullivan, Stuart H. Friess, Jill Ralston, Colin Smith, Kathleen J. Propert, Paul E. Rapp, Susan S. Margulies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Pigs continue to grow in importance as a tool in neuroscience. However, behavioral tests that have been validated in the rodent model do not translate well to pigs because of their very different responses to behavioral stimuli. We refined metrics for assessing porcine open field behavior to detect a wide spectrum of clinically relevant behaviors in the piglet post-traumatic brain injury (TBI). Female neonatal piglets underwent a rapid non-impact head rotation in the sagittal plane (n=8 evaluable) or were instrumented shams (n=7 evaluable). Open field testing was conducted 1 day prior to injury (day-1) in order to establish an individual baseline for analysis, and at days +1 and +4 after injury. Animals were then killed on day +6 after injury for neuropathological assessment of axonal injury. Injured piglets were less interested in interacting with environmental stimuli and had a lower activity level than did shams. These data were compared with previously published data for axial rotational injuries in neonatal piglets. Acute behavioral outcomes post-TBI showed a dependence on the rotational plane of the brain injury, with animals with sagittal injuries demonstrating a greater level of inactivity and less random usage of the open field space than those with axial injuries. The persistence of axonal injury is also dependent on the rotational plane, with sagittal rotations causing more prolonged injuries than axial rotations. These results are consistent with animal studies, finite element models, and studies of concussions in football, which have all demonstrated differences in injury severity depending upon the direction of head impact rotation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-545
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • TBI
  • behavioral assessments
  • cognitive function
  • pediatric brain injury


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