JM Surmacki, L Ansel-Bollepalli, F Pischiutta, ER Zanier, A Ercole, SE Bohndiek
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) constitutes a major cause of death and long-term disability. At present, we lack methods to non-invasively track tissue biochemistry and hence select appropriate interventions for patients. We hypothesized that detailed label-free vibrational chemical analysis of focal TBI could provide such information. We assessed the early spatial and temporal changes in tissue biochemistry that are associated with brain injury in mice. Numerous differences were observed in the spectra of the contusion core and pericontusional tissue between 2 and 7 days. For example, a strong signal from haem was seen in the contusion core at 2 days due to haemorrhage, which subsequently resolved. More importantly, elevated cholesterol levels were demonstrated by 7 days, which may be a marker of important cell repair processes. Principal component analysis revealed an early 'acute' component dominated by haemorrhage and a delayed component reflecting changes in protein and lipid composition. Notably we demonstrated changes in Raman signature with time even in the contralateral hemisphere when compared to sham control mice. Raman spectroscopy therefore shows promise as a probe that is sensitive to important pathobiological processes in TBI and could be applied in future both in the experimental setting, as well as in the clinic.