Molecule Protects Brain After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Science Daily reported that a molecule could protect the brain from cognitive impairments after a mild traumatic brain injury. The science came out of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Mild traumatic brain injury, also known as mTBI, can found in children, athletes, veterans, and the elderly. Future research could establish TXM-peptides as a way to prevent brain damage even if administered in a single dose one hour after injury.

A single dose of this molecule could prevent inflammation, cell death, and cognitive impairments that often come with a brain injury. Mild traumatic brain injury is underdiagnosed as it lacks external signs and structural damage. However, it comes with behavioral, cognitive and emotional difficulty that can last far after the injury. Most symptoms are taken care of in the following days and weeks, but up to fifty percent still see symptoms after one year, which include psychological symptoms, cognitive impairments, and physical complaints.

These sequelae can occur because of increased glutamate levels, oxidative stress, opening of the blood-brain barrier, and a kind of inflammatory behavior associated with cell death. To help with mTBI, it is necessary to calm the inflammatory pathways, says Prof. Daphne Atlas, from the Department of Biological Chemistry in the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

At her lab, she has derived a new molecule from the active site of Trx-1, a major protein that maintains the oxidation/reduction state of the cells. The molecules are called thioredoxin-mimetic peptides, or TXM-peptides. In the protein’s reduced form, it binds to another protein, which is released upon oxidation of Trx-1 and activates a chain reaction that leads to inflammation.

TXM-peptides have been shown to protect cells against early death. They are made of just three or four amino acids, but also mimic the activity of Trx-1 and inhibit some enzymes, which prevents inflammation and cell death.

Researchers induced cognitive impairments in anesthetized mice by a weight drop resulting in an mild traumatic brain injury. In various tests, the mice showed a decrease in spatial memory and a loss in visual learning ability, as well as lower learning ability 30 days after the injury.

A single dose of TXM-peptides one hour after injury at a 50 mg per kg of body weight significantly improved decline in cognitive performance and learning ability after one week and 30 days.

Future research might study the effect of a single dose of TXM-peptides after a mild traumatic brain injury in human patients. One of the advantages to this treatment is that peptides are comprised of amino acids, the natural building blocks of proteins, as opposed to an unnatural drug.

But we must also put in this note of caution. Mice are not humans, human frontal function, the most significant problem that comes with most traumatic brain damage, is far different than the cognitive functions they are measuring in these experimental mice. Progress is important but only through behavioral based therapy systems, is a lifetime of recovery from significant brain injury possible.



Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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