Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy & Neurobiology

First Advisor

Dr. Dong Sun


2.5 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually in the United States. Although there is potential for functional recovery following TBI, there is no definitive treatment to improve recovery after TBI. Our lab has shown that TBI enhances an endogenous neurogenic response in the subventricular zone and hippocampus. TBI-induced neural stem cells (NSCs) can integrate into regions such as the hippocampus and olfactory bulb. Although the mechanism behind TBI-enhanced neurogenesis remains unknown, the Notch signaling pathway has been implicated as a regulator in the maintenance and survival of NSCs.

This thesis explores the effects of Notch pathway manipulation on functional recovery following TBI. We hypothesize that Notch signaling plays a critical role in recovery after TBI. Activation of this pathway via a Notch agonist (Notch1) will facilitate post-injury recovery while inhibition of this pathway via a Notch antagonist (recombinant Jagged-1 Fc) will deter post-injury recovery. Functional recovery was assessed within 30 days or 60 days post-injury in two different cohorts of animals. The behavior assays conducted in this study included motor, cognitive, and olfactory assessment.

In the 30-day phase, Notch pathway manipulation following TBI did not affect functional performance. In the 60-day study, significant group differences were found. While the FPI+Vehicle animals exhibited a functional recovery in Morris water maze, injured animals with Notch inhibition failed to show this cognitive recovery, indicating the involvement of the Notch pathway in cognitive recovery at the chronic stage following TBI. Motor and olfaction were not significantly affected by Notch pathway manipulation.


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