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Modeling sports-related mild traumatic brain injury in animals—A systematic review
journal contributionposted on 28.04.2020, 00:00 by Matthew Hiskens, M Angoa-Pérez, Anthony Schneiders, Rebecca Vella, Andrew Fenning
Sports-related head trauma has emerged as an important public health issue, as mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) may result in neurodegenerative disorders such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Research into mTBI and CTE pathophysiology are difficult to undertake in athletes, with observational trials and post-mortem analysis the current mainstays. Thus, animal models play an important role in the study of mTBI, however, traditional animal models have focused on acute, severe injuries rather than the more typical mTBI's seen in sport injuries. Recently, a number of animal models have been developed that are both appropriately scaled and biomechanically relevant to the forces sustained by athletes. This review aimed to examine the literature for variables included in these animal models, and the resulting neurotrauma as evidenced by pathology and behavioral deficits. A systematic search of the literature was performed in multiple electronic databases. The inclusion criteria required mimicry of athlete mTBI conditions: freedom of head movement, lack of surgical alteration of the skull, and application of direct contact force. Studies were analyzed for variables including apparatus design features (impact force, change in animal head velocity, and kinetic energy transfer to the head), demonstrated pathology (phosphorylated tau, TDP-43 aggregation, diffuse axonal injury, gliosis, cytokine inflammation response, and genetic integrity), and behavioral changes. These studies suggested that appropriate animal models can assist in understanding the pathological and functional outcomes of athlete mTBI, and could be used as a platform for future studies of diagnostic/prognostic markers and in the development of treatment interventions. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.