Cognitive deficits in survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are associated with irreversible neurodegeneration in brain regions such as the hippocampus. Comparative gene expression analysis of dying and surviving neurons could provide insight into potential therapeutic targets. We used two pathway-specific PCR arrays (RT2 Profiler Apoptosis and Neurotrophins & Receptors PCR arrays) to identify and validate TBI-induced gene expression in dying (Fluoro-Jade-positive) or surviving (Fluoro-Jade- negative) pyramidal neurons obtained by laser capture microdissection (LCM). In the Apoptosis PCR array, dying neurons showed significant increases in expression of genes associated with cell death, inflammation, and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress compared with adjacent, surviving neurons. Pro-survival genes with pleiotropic functions were also significantly increased in dying neurons compared to surviving neurons, suggesting that even irreversibly injured neurons are able to mount a protective response. In the Neurotrophins & Receptors PCR array, which consists of genes that are normally expected to be expressed in both groups of hippocampal neurons, only a few genes were expressed at significantly different levels between dying and surviving neurons. Immunohistochemical analysis of selected, differentially expressed proteins supported the gene expression data. This is the first demonstration of pathway-focused PCR array profiling of identified populations of dying and surviving neurons in the brain after TBI. Combining precise laser microdissection of identifiable cells with pathway-focused PCR array analysis is a practical, low-cost alternative to microarrays that provided insight into neuroprotective signals that could be therapeutically targeted to ameliorate TBI-induced neurodegeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)