Background: The incidence of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is on the rise in the USA. Concussions, or mild TBIs without skull fracture, account for about 75% of all TBIs. Mild TBIs (mTBIs) lead to memory and cognitive deficits, headaches, intraocular pressure rises, axonal degeneration, neuroinflammation, and an array of cerebrovascular dysfunctions, including increased vascular permeability and decreased cerebral blood flow. It has been recently reported that besides vascular dysfunction in the cerebral circulation, mTBI may also cause a significant impairment of endothelial function in the systemic circulation, at least within mesenteric microvessels. In this study, we investigated whether mTBI affects endothelial function in aortas and determined the contribution of transient receptor potential canonical (TRPC) channels to modulating mTBI-associated endothelial dysfunction. Methods: We used a model of closed-head mTBI in C57BL/6, 129S, 129S-C57BL/6-F2 mice, and 129S-TRPC1 and 129S-C57BL/6-TRPC6 knockout mice to determine the effect of mTBI on endothelial function in mouse aortas employing ex vivo isometric tension measurements. Aortic tissue was also analyzed using immunofluorescence and qRT-PCR for TRPC6 expression following mTBI. Results: We show that in various strains of mice, mTBI induces a pronounced and long-lasting endothelial dysfunction in the aorta. Ablation of TRPC6 protects mice from mTBI-associated aortic endothelial dysfunction, while TRPC1 ablation does not impact brain injury-induced endothelial impairment in the aorta. Consistent with a role of TRPC6 activation following mTBI, we observed improved endothelial function in wild type control mice subjected to mTBI following 7-day in vivo treatment with larixyl acetate, an inhibitor of TRPC6 channels. Conversely, in vitro treatment with the pro-inflammatory endotoxin lipopolysaccharide, which activates endothelial TRPC6 in a Toll-like receptor type 4 (TLR4)-dependent manner, worsened aortic endothelial dysfunction in wild type mice. Lipopolysaccharide treatment in vitro failed to elicit endothelial dysfunction in TRPC6 knockout mice. No change in endothelial TRPC6 expression was observed 7 days following TBI. Conclusions: These data suggest that TRPC6 activation may be critical for inducing endothelial dysfunction following closed-head mTBI and that pharmacological inhibition of the channel may be a feasible therapeutic strategy for preventing mTBI-associated systemic endothelial dysfunction.
- Endothelial dysfunction
- TRPC channels
- Traumatic brain injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience