Talk by Bojana Stefanovic - Imaging of neurovascular unit dysfunction in experimental mild traumatic brain injury

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Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is the most common type of traumatic brain injury globally. Although its consequences are often short term, a growing population of mTBI patients suffer long-term neuropsychiatric and neurological impairments and are at an increased risk of later life dementia. It is presently not clear what neuropathological changes underlie these sequelae. This talk will review our recent studies on the sustained neurogliovascular unit function changes in a murine model of repeated, mild traumatic brain injury. By leveraging two photon fluorescence microscopy, intracerebral electrophysiological recordings, optogenetics, and high field magnetic resonance imaging, we reveal pronounced, lasting, and diffuse changes in the neuronal and cerebrovascular function in situ, accompanied by only subtle changes in histopathological readouts and no contrast on conventional neuroimaging. Our findings suggest disinhibitory interventions in the subacute to chronic stage post mTBI may be effective for rebalancing excitation to inhibition balance in the peri-contusional tissue and normalizing cerebrovascular tone and reactivity. In light of the significance of functional hyperemia for healthy brain functioning, normalization of the neurovascular unit function may help decrease the susceptibility of the concussed brain to subsequent pathologies. We expect sensitive in situ functional assays to be instrumental for development of effective neurovascularly targeted interventions in the clinic.