A Multiscale Approach to Blast Neurotrauma Modeling: Part II: Methodology for Inducing Blast Injury to in vitro Models

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University New York, NY, USA.
Frontiers in Neurology 02/2012; 3:23. DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2012.00023
Source: PubMed


Due to the prominent role of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in wounding patterns of U.S. war-fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, blast injury has risen to a new level of importance and is recognized to be a major cause of injuries to the brain. However, an injury risk-function for microscopic, macroscopic, behavioral, and neurological deficits has yet to be defined. While operational blast injuries can be very complex and thus difficult to analyze, a simplified blast injury model would facilitate studies correlating biological outcomes with blast biomechanics to define tolerance criteria. Blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) results from the translation of a shock wave in-air, such as that produced by an IED, into a pressure wave within the skull-brain complex. Our blast injury methodology recapitulates this phenomenon in vitro, allowing for control of the injury biomechanics via a compressed-gas shock tube used in conjunction with a custom-designed, fluid-filled receiver that contains the living culture. The receiver converts the air shock wave into a fast-rising pressure transient with minimal reflections, mimicking the intracranial pressure history in blast. We have developed an organotypic hippocampal slice culture model that exhibits cell death when exposed to a 530 ± 17.7-kPa peak overpressure with a 1.026 ± 0.017-ms duration and 190 ± 10.7 kPa-ms impulse in-air. We have also injured a simplified in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier, which exhibits disrupted integrity immediately following exposure to 581 ± 10.0 kPa peak overpressure with a 1.067 ± 0.006-ms duration and 222 ± 6.9 kPa-ms impulse in-air. To better prevent and treat bTBI, both the initiating biomechanics and the ensuing pathobiology must be understood in greater detail. A well-characterized, in vitro model of bTBI, in conjunction with animal models, will be a powerful tool for developing strategies to mitigate the risks of bTBI.

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    • "The FE receiver model was validated with pressure time-histories recorded during the performance characterization of the receiver without the presence of test samples. Following validation , the receiver FE model was used to investigate the strain response of one type of in vitro tissue culture currently tested in the receiver system (organotypic hippocampal slice culture plated onto a porous well; Effgen et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: The loading conditions used in some current in vivo and in vitro blast-induced neurotrauma models may not be representative of real-world blast conditions. To address these limitations, we developed a compressed-gas driven shock tube with different driven lengths that can generate Friedlander-type blasts. The shock tube can generate overpressures up to 650 kPa with durations between 0.3 and 1.1 ms using compressed helium driver gas, and peak overpressures up to 450 kPa with durations between 0.6 and 3 ms using compressed nitrogen. This device is used for short-duration blast overpressure loading for small animal in vivo injury models, and contrasts the more frequently used long duration/high impulse blast overpressures in the literature. We also developed a new apparatus that is used with the shock tube to recreate the in vivo intracranial overpressure response for loading in vitro culture preparations. The receiver device surrounds the culture with materials of similar impedance to facilitate the propagation of a single overpressure pulse through the tissue. This method prevents pressure waves reflecting off the tissue that can cause unrealistic deformation and injury. The receiver performance was characterized using the longest helium-driven shock tube, and produced in-fluid overpressures up to 1500 kPa at the location where a culture would be placed. This response was well correlated with the overpressure conditions from the shock tube (R(2) = 0.97). Finite element models of the shock tube and receiver were developed and validated to better elucidate the mechanics of this methodology. A demonstration exposing a culture to the loading conditions created by this system suggest tissue strains less than 5% for all pressure levels simulated, which was well below functional deficit thresholds for strain rates less than 50 s(-1). This novel system is not limited to a specific type of culture model and can be modified to reproduce more complex pressure pulses.
    Frontiers in Neurology 03/2012; 3:46. DOI:10.3389/fneur.2012.00046
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    ABSTRACT: This article presents the integration of brain injury biomechanics and graph theoretical analysis of neuronal connections, or connectomics, to form a neurocomputational model that captures spatiotemporal characteristics of trauma. We relate localized mechanical brain damage predicted from biofidelic finite element simulations of the human head subjected to impact with degradation in the structural connectome for a single individual. The finite element model incorporates various length scales into the full head simulations by including anisotropic constitutive laws informed by diffusion tensor imaging. Coupling between the finite element analysis and network-based tools is established through experimentally-based cellular injury thresholds for white matter regions. Once edges are degraded, graph theoretical measures are computed on the "damaged" network. For a frontal impact, the simulations predict that the temporal and occipital regions undergo the most axonal strain and strain rate at short times (less than 24 hrs), which leads to cellular death initiation, which results in damage that shows dependence on angle of impact and underlying microstructure of brain tissue. The monotonic cellular death relationships predict a spatiotemporal change of structural damage. Interestingly, at 96 hrs post-impact, computations predict no network nodes were completely disconnected from the network, despite significant damage to network edges. At early times (t < 24 hrs) network measures of global and local efficiency were degraded little; however, as time increased to 96 hrs the network properties were significantly reduced. In the future, this computational framework could help inform functional networks from physics-based structural brain biomechanics to obtain not only a biomechanics-based understanding of injury, but also neurophysiological insight.
    PLoS Computational Biology 08/2012; 8(8):e1002619. DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002619 · 4.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The incidence of blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) has increased substantially in recent military conflicts. However, the consequences of bTBI on the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a specialized cerebrovascular structure essential for brain homeostasis, remain unknown. In this study we utilized a shock tube driven by compressed gas to generate operationally relevant, ideal pressure profiles consistent with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). By multiple measures, the barrier function of an in vitro BBB model was disrupted following exposure to a range of controlled blast-loading conditions. Trans-endothelial electrical resistance (TEER) decreased acutely in a dose-dependent manner that was most strongly correlated with impulse, as opposed to peak overpressure or duration. Significantly increased hydraulic conductivity and solute permeability post-injury further confirmed acute alterations in barrier function. Compromised ZO-1 immunostaining identified a structural basis for BBB breakdown. After blast exposure, TEER remained significantly depressed 2 days post-injury, followed by spontaneous recovery to pre-injury control levels at day 3. This study is the first to report immediate disruption of an in vitro BBB model following primary blast exposure, which may be important for the development of novel helmet designs to help mitigate the effects of blast on the BBB.
    Journal of neurotrauma 04/2013; 30(19). DOI:10.1089/neu.2012.2773 · 3.71 Impact Factor
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