A New Rabbit Model of Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury

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25 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common cause of disability in childhood, resulting in numerous physical, behavioral, and cognitive sequelae, which can influence development through the lifespan. The mechanisms by which TBI influences normal development and maturation remain largely unknown. Pediatric rodent models of TBI often do not demonstrate the spectrum of motor and cognitive deficits seen in patients. To address this problem, we developed a New Zealand white rabbit model of pediatric TBI that better mimics the neurological injury seen after TBI in children. On postnatal Day 5-7 (P5-7), rabbits were injured by a controlled cortical impact (6-mm impactor tip; 5.5m/sec, 2-mm depth, 50-msec duration). Rabbits from the same litter served as naïve (no injury) and sham (craniotomy alone) controls. Functional abilities and activity levels were measured 1 and 5d after injury. Maturation level was monitored daily. We performed cognitive tests during P14-24 and sacrificed the animals at 1, 3, 7, and 21d after injury to evaluate lesion volume and microglia. TBI kits exhibited delayed achievement of normal developmental milestones. They also demonstrated significant cognitive deficits, with lower percentage of correct alternation rate in the T-maze (n=9-15/group; p<0.001) and less discrimination between novel and old objects (p<0.001). Lesion volume increased from 16% at Day 3 to 30% at Day 7 after injury, indicating ongoing secondary injury. Activated microglia were noted at the injury site and also in white matter regions of the ipsilateral and contralateral hemispheres. The neurologic and histologic changes in this model are comparable to those reported clinically. Thus, this rabbit model provides a novel platform for evaluating neuroprotective therapies in pediatric TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1369-1379
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • cognition
  • microglia
  • motor
  • pediatric traumatic brain injury
  • rabbit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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