Neurotrauma Rep. 2023 Aug 30;4(1):573-585. doi: 10.1089/neur.2023.0051. eCollection 2023.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children often leads to poor developmental outcomes attributable to progressive cell loss caused by secondary injuries, including endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Buprenorphine (BPN) is commonly used in children for pain management; however, the effects of BPN on ER stress in the pediatric population are still inconclusive. This study investigated the sex-specific effects of BPN on ER stress, abnormal protein accumulation, and cell loss in a mouse impact acceleration model of pediatric TBI. On post-natal day 20-21 (P20-21), male and female littermates were randomized into sham, TBI + saline and TBI + BPN groups. BPN (0.075 mg/kg) was administered to TBI + BPN mice at 30 min after injury and then every 6-12 h for 2 days. The impact of BPN was evaluated at 1, 3, and 7 days post-injury. We found that TBI induced more prominent ER stress pathway activation at 1 and 3 days post-injury in males, compared to females, whereas abnormal protein accumulation and cell loss were more severe in females at 7 days post-injury, compared with males. Although BPN partially ameliorated abnormal protein accumulation and cell loss in both males and females, BPN only decreased ER stress pathway activation in males, not in females. In conclusion, BPN exhibits sex-specific effects on ER stress, abnormal protein accumulation, and cell loss in a time-dependent manner at the acute phase after pediatric TBI, which provides the rationale to assess the potential effects of BPN on long-term outcomes after pediatric TBI in both males and females.