Mild blast-related TBI in a mouse model alters amygdalar neurostructure and circuitry

Whitney A. Ratliff, Ronald F. Mervis, Bruce A. Citron, Brian Schwartz, Vardit Rubovitch, Shaul Schreiber, Chaim G. Pick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) continues to be a signature injury of our modern conflicts. Due in part to increased use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), we have seen blast trauma make up a significant portion of TBIs sustained by deployed troops and civilians. In addition to the physical injury, TBI is also a common comorbidity with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Previous research suggests that PTSD is often associated with increased signaling within the amygdala, leading to feelings of fear and hyperarousal. In our study, we utilized a mouse model of mild blast-related TBI (bTBI) to investigate how TBI induces changes within the amygdala, which may provide favorable conditions for the development of PTSD. To do this, we performed Golgi staining on the stellate neurons of the basolateral amygdala and quantified dendritic amount, distribution, and complexity. We found increases in dendritic branching and in the density of dendritic spines in injured mice. Increases in spine density appears to be primarily due to increases in memory associated mushroom type dendritic spines. These changes observed in our bTBI model that are consistent with chronic stress models, suggesting an important connection between the physical changes induced by TBI and the neurological symptoms of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Basolateral amygdala
  • Blast-related traumatic brain injury
  • Golgi stain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder


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