October 2, 2023

Acta Neuropathol. 2023 Aug 14. doi: 10.1007/s00401-023-02622-9. Online ahead of print.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes diffuse axonal injury which can produce chronic white matter pathology and subsequent post-traumatic neurodegeneration with poor patient outcomes. Tau modulates axon cytoskeletal functions and undergoes phosphorylation and mis-localization in neurodegenerative disorders. The effects of tau pathology on neurodegeneration after TBI are unclear. We used mice with neuronal expression of human mutant tau to examine effects of pathological tau on white matter pathology after TBI. Adult male and female hTau.P301S (Tg2541) transgenic and wild-type (Wt) mice received either moderate single TBI (s-TBI) or repetitive mild TBI (r-mTBI; once daily × 5), or sham procedures. Acutely, s-TBI produced more extensive axon damage in the corpus callosum (CC) as compared to r-mTBI. After s-TBI, significant CC thinning was present at 6 weeks and 4 months post-injury in Wt and transgenic mice, with homozygous tau expression producing additional pathology of late demyelination. In contrast, r-mTBI did not produce significant CC thinning except at the chronic time point of 4 months in homozygous mice, which exhibited significant CC atrophy (- 29.7%) with increased microgliosis. Serum neurofilament light quantification detected traumatic axonal injury at 1 day post-TBI in Wt and homozygous mice. At 4 months, high tau and neurofilament in homozygous mice implicated tau in chronic axon pathology. These findings did not have sex differences detected. Conclusions: Neuronal tau pathology differentially exacerbated CC pathology based on injury severity and chronicity. Ongoing CC atrophy from s-TBI became accompanied by late demyelination. Pathological tau significantly worsened CC atrophy during the chronic phase after r-mTBI.

PMID:37578550 | DOI:10.1007/s00401-023-02622-9