Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Hoane, Michael


Hypertonic saline (HS) is an accepted treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, the behavioral and cognitive consequences following HS administration have not thoroughly been examined. Recent preclinical evidence has suggested that nicotinamide (NAM) is beneficial for recovery of function following TBI. The first study compared the behavioral and cognitive consequences of HS and NAM as competitive therapeutic agents for the treatment of TBI. Following controlled cortical impact (CCI), bolus administrations of NAM (500 mg/kg), 7.5% HS, or 0.9% saline vehicle (1.0 mL/kg) were given at 2, 24, and 48 hrs post-CCI. Behavioral results revealed that animals treated with NAM and HS showed significant improvements in beam walk and locomotor placing compared to the Vehicle group. The Morris water maze (MWM) retrograde amnesia test was conducted on day 12 post-CCI and showed that all groups had significant retention of memory compared to injured, Vehicle-treated animals. Working memory was also assessed on days 18-20 using the MWM. The NAM and Vehicle groups quickly acquired the task; however, HS animals showed no acquisition of this task. Histological examinations revealed that the HS-treated animals lost significantly more cortical tissue than either the NAM or Vehicle-treated animals. HS-treated animals showed a greater loss of hippocampal tissue compared to the other groups. In general, NAM showed a faster rate of recovery than HS without this associated tissue loss. Study 1 suggested that future research into HS should include drug injection time course studies. Multiple injections may be responsible for the notable tissue damage. Therefore, it is possible that fewer injections will result in comparable behavioral recovery and less tissue damage that was observed. Due to the detrimental effects of 7.5% HS on cognition and hippocampal tissue following multiple administration in study 1, the proposed second study sought to study the behavioral and cognitive effects of HS using either single or multiple injection regime. The proposed study entailed a lengthier testing schedule than in study 1 and included the same histological examination to compare the different dosages. Additionally, edema formation was measured 24 hours following each drug endpoint in order to delineate the possible underlying mechanism of the observed deficits. In Study 2, HS tended to improve function on motor, sensorimotor and neurological tasks. Although this was a trend on all tests, animals treated with a single administration of HS overall performed better on all tasks compared to those receiving double or multiple injections. In the retrograde amnesia test, although not significant, the Sham, HS-2, and HS-24 animals showed improvement; whereas, the Vehicle and HS-48 animals showed no improvement in performance. This could possibly be linked to the additional hippocampal tissue loss that was noted in the HS-48 animals. In the working memory paradigm, the HS-2 and Vehicle groups had longer latencies to reach the platform than did the Sham group. However, after the first testing day, there were no significant differences between any of the groups. All animals treated with HS performed at the same rate and their performance either stayed the same over the three day testing period or became worse. It appears these animals were unable to learn and improve in the new memory acquisition task which is comparable to the results found in study 1. In study 1, there were again no observed hippocampal volume differences between the Sham and Vehicle-treated animals. However, there was extensive hippocampal tissue damage observed in all of the HS groups. Furthermore, animals treated with a single administration of HS had less hippocampal loss than those with double or multiple doses. Those animals receiving more than one dose of HS lost significantly more hippocampal tissue than the Vehicle group. The results of study 2 are comparable, and support, the results of study 1. Both studies support the strengths and weakness of HS therapy following TBI. Although there are potential benefits of HS therapy, there are also detrimental risks involved. Cognitive and structural damage could possible occur if the dosage amounts are not closely studied and monitored. Although the use of HS may be beneficial to reduce ICP following TBI, it appears that the use of HS may also lead to direct or indirect tissue loss possibly by chronic cellular dehydration. Stronger or more delineated effects may be noticed using higher doses or concentrations of HS in future studies. However, due to the nature of these results, caution should be advised with the use of all therapeutic usage of HS until further detailed studies are conducted.




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