A novel method to model chronic traumatic encephalopathy in Drosophila

Mingkuan Sun, Liam L. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is an established neurodegenerative disease that is closely associated with exposure to repetitive mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). The mechanisms responsible for its complex pathological changes remain largely elusive, despite a recent consensus to define the neuropathological criteria. Here, we describe a novel method to develop a model of CTE in Drosophila melanogaster (Drosophila) in an attempt to identify the key genes and pathways that lead to the characteristic hyperphosphorylated tau accumulation and neuronal death in the brain. Adjustable-strength impacts to inflict mild closed injury are delivered directly to the fly head, subjecting the head to rapid acceleration and deceleration. Our method eliminates the potential problems inherent with other Drosophila mTBI models (e.g.,animal death might be induced by damage to other parts of the body or to internal organs). The less labor- and cost-intensive animal care, short life span, and extensive genetic tools make the fruit fly ideal to study CTE pathogenesis and make it possible to perform large-scale, genome-wide forward genetic and pharmacological screens. We anticipate that the ongoing characterization of the model will generate important mechanistic insights on disease prevention and therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere55602
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number125
StatePublished - Jul 4 2017


  • Animal model
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • Concussion
  • Drosophila
  • Issue 125
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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