Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a devastating healthcare problem in the United States, however, there are currently no pharmacological treatments approved for the clinical treatment of this condition. Compelling experimental data demonstrates that mitochondrial dysfunction is a pivotal link in the neuropathological sequalae of brain injury. This proposal focuses on mild mitochondrial uncoupling as a novel therapeutic intervention following traumatic brain injury. The premise being that TBI-induced increases in mitochondrial Ca2+ cycling/overload ultimately lead to mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondrial uncouplers are compounds that facilitate the movement of protons from the mitochondrial inner-membrane space into the mitochondrial matrix. Uncoupling can also be mediated via the activation of endogenous mitochondrial uncoupling proteins (UCP) that can be modulated by fasting. While long-term, complete uncoupling of mitochondria would be detrimental, a transient or """"""""mild uncoupling"""""""", could confer neuroprotection. Mild uncoupling during the acute phases of TBI would be expected to reduce mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake (cycling) and ROS production. The proposed experiments are designed to test the novel hypothesis that mild mitochondrial uncoupling is neuroprotective following traumatic brain injury. Specifically we will determine 1) if mitochondrial uncouplers increase tissue sparing and improve behavioral outcome following TBI 2) if mitochondrial uncouplers maintain mitochondrial integrity and bioenergetics following TBI and 3) examine the mechanism(s) underlying the neuroprotection afforded by fasting following traumatic brain injury. The experiments will determine the optimal dose and time post-injury to administer uncouplers to afford optimal neuroprotection and reduce cognitive defects following a mild or severe TBI in rats. Next we will examine mitochondrial function following mild or severe TBI in rats to determine if mitochondrial uncouplers maintain mitochondrial integrity. Finally, using a reductionist approach, we will employ several strategies including the use of UCP-2 transgenic mice, insulin-induced hypoglycemia and ketone administration to determine specific mechanisms involved in fasting-mediated neuroprotection following TBI. The proposed experiments may pinpoint important mitochondrial events that could be potential novel targets for the treatment of TBI and perhaps, other acute neuronal injuries.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-CDIN (01))
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Hicks, Ramona R
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University of Kentucky
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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