Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy & Neurobiology

First Advisor

Dr. Dong Sun


Aside from preventing traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) altogether, treatment options for TBI typically focus on the secondary biochemical processes that occur in response to the primary mechanical insult. These secondary injuries can lead to apoptosis and necrosis in the days and weeks that follow a TBI. Therefore, finding a treatment that can prevent, reduce, and repair secondary damage is instrumental in the recovery of TBI patients. The flavonoid 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF) has been identified as a TrkB agonist that mimics the effects of brain derived neurotrophin factor (BDNF). Upon binding to the TrkB receptor, signaling cascades are initiated that can promote neuronal survival and neural differentiation. The use of 7,8-DHF in the treatment of TBI is favorable due to its long half-life and ability to pass the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In this study, we evaluated the dosage time frame of 7,8-DHF that would allow for the greatest impact in recovery after a focal TBI. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to a moderate cortical impact injury and administered a 5mg/kg dose of 7,8-DHF i.p. for five days starting on day 0, 2, 3, or 5 post injury. Sensorimotor function was evaluated with beam walk and rotarod test. Morris Water Maze (MWM) and fear conditioning test were used to analyze cognitive function. Biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) was injected into the contralateral cerebral cortex 14 days after injury and animals were sacrificed 28 dpi. Brain sections were processed for Giemsa histological staining to assess cortical lesion volume and the total number of surviving neurons. Parallel sections were processed for BDA staining to assess changes of axon sprouting in the injured cortex. VGlut-1 staining of the hippocampus was used to identify presynaptic plasticity. We found that the administration of 7,8- DHF starting at one hour after TBI could provide protection against motor and cognitive dysfunction. Histological examination showed a significant reduction of cortical lesion volume and higher number of survival neurons in the injured hippocampus when 7,8-DHF administration began one hour and two days after injury. BDA staining of intracortical axon sprouting and VGlut-1 staining of the hippocampus highlighted a trend that 7,8-DHF administration starting day five post brain injury may enhance neuronal plasticity. Collectively, the results indicate that 7,8-DHF can provide the better neuronal protection when administration begins one hour after TBI.


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