Closed head injury often has a devastating outcome, partly because the insult, like other injuries to the central nervous system (CNS), triggers self-destructive processes. During studies of the response to other CNS insults, it was unexpectedly discovered that the immune system, if well controlled, provides protection against self-destructive activities. Here we show that in mice with closed head injury, the immune system plays a key role in the spontaneous recovery. Strain-related differences were observed in the ability to harness a T cell-dependent protective mechanism against the effects of the injury. We further show that the trauma-induced deficit could be reduced, both functionally and anatomically, by post-traumatic vaccination with Cop-1, a synthetic copolymer used to treat patients with multiple sclerosis and found (using a different treatment protocol) to effectively counteract the loss of neurons caused by axonal injury or glutamate-induced toxicity. We suggest that a compound such as Cop-1 can be safely developed as a therapeutic vaccine to boost the body's immune repair mechanisms, thereby providing multifactorial protection against the consequences of brain trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-569
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Autoimmune neuroprotection
  • Brain injury
  • CNS inflammation
  • Cop-1 (Glatiramer acetate)
  • EAE-susceptibility
  • Strain differences


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