Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy & Neurobiology

First Advisor

Dong Sun, MD, PhD

Second Advisor

Raymond Colello, PhD

Third Advisor

Linda Phillips, PhD


Following traumatic brain injury (TBI), the hippocampus is particularly vulnerable to damage, and BDNF, an endogenous neurotrophin that activates the TrkB receptor, has been shown to play a key role in the brain’s neuroprotective response. Activation of the TrkB signaling pathway by BDNF in the CNS promotes cell survival and aids in cell growth. However, due to its inability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB), the therapeutic advantages of BDNF treatment following TBI are limited. 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF) is a flavonoid that mimics the effects of BDNF, is a potent TrkB receptor agonist, and can successfully cross the BBB. Our lab has previously demonstrated that administration of 7,8-DHF post-TBI results in improved cognitive functional recovery, increased neuronal survival, and reduced lesion volume.

The current study examined the effects of 7,8-DHF on neurogenesis and neuronal migration in the dentate gyrus following TBI. In this study, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to moderate controlled cortical impact injury (CCI) or sham surgery. Injured animals received 5 daily single doses of 7,8-DHF treatment (i.p) or vehicle starting either 60 mins after injury or 2 days after injury. BrdU was administered in 3 doses at 2 days post-injury for animals sacrificed at day 15, and single daily doses at days 1-7 post-injury for animals sacrificed at day 28 to label cell proliferation. Animals were sacrificed at 15 days or 28 days post-injury to examine cell proliferation, generation of new neurons, and differentiation of newly generated cells using proliferation marker Ki67, immature neuronal marker DCX, and BrdU double-labeling with markers for mature neurons (NeuN), astrocytes (GFAP) and microglia (Iba1).

We found that administration of 5 doses (5mg/kg) of 7,8-DHF beginning two days post-injury had the strongest effect on neurogenesis and migration, but did not have a significant prolonged effect on cell proliferation at 15 days post-injury. We also found that 7,8-DHF treatment given early or 2 days post-TBI did not affect the neuronal differentiation in the granule cell layer. However, a higher percentage of BrdU/GFAP+ and BrdU/IBa1+ cells were found in the hilus regions in 7,8-DHF treated animals, suggesting newly generated cells in this region are mostly glial cell types. Our results suggest that 7,8-DHF has neurotrophic-like therapeutic effects following injury, and due to increased neurogenesis (compared to injured animals treated with vehicle), may effectively contribute to greater cell survival long-term. Additionally, potential long-term survival coupled with increased outward migration from the subgranular zone may result in increased integration of newly formed neurons into existing hippocampal circuitry, further contributing to cognitive recovery.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Included in

Neurosciences Commons