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Blast-induced mild traumatic brain injury alterations of corticotropin-releasing factor neuronal activity in the mouse hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus

By Ludovic D. Langlois, Sarah Simmons, Mario Oyola, Shawn Gouty, T. John Wu, Fereshteh S Nugent

Posted 01 Nov 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.29.466475

Blast-induced mild traumatic brain injury (mbTBI) is the most common cause of TBI in US service members and veterans. Those exposed to TBI are at greater risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depressive disorders, and substance use disorders following TBI [1, 2]. Previously, we have demonstrated that mbTBI increases anxiety-like behaviors in mice and dysregulates the stress at the level of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) neurons in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN). To expand on how mTBI may dysregulate the stress axis centrally, here PVN CRF neuronal activity was evaluated using whole cell-patch clamp recordings in hypothalamic slices from sham and mbTBI adult male CRF:tdTomato mice 7 days post-injury. We found that mbTBI generally did not affect the neuronal excitability and intrinsic membrane properties of PVN CRF neurons; this injury selectively increased the frequency of spontaneous neuronal firing of PVN CRF neurons localized to the dorsal PVN (dPVN) but not ventral PVN (vPVN). Consistently, mbTBI-induced dPVN CRF hyperactivity was associated with pre- and post-synaptic depression of spontaneous GABAergic transmission onto dPVN CRF neurons suggesting that mbTBI-induced GABAergic synaptic dysfunction may underlie dPVN CRF neuronal hyperactivity and increases in dPVN CRF signaling. The present results provide the first evidence for mbTBI-induced alterations in PVN CRF neuronal activity and GABAergic synaptic function that could mediate hypothalamic CRF dysregulation following mbTBI contributing to stress psychopathology associated with blast injury.

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