University of Arkansas researchers find protein responsible for fluid swelling in concussions

University of Arkansas researchers find protein responsible for fluid swelling in concussions
University of Arkansas researchers find protein responsible for fluid swelling in concussions
A team of University of Arkansas and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) researchers recently determined the protein responsible for the fluid swelling that occurs in the brain during mild traumatic brain injuries, or concussions.
 
“Our study found that mild traumatic brain injury resulted in increased expression of a protein called aquaporin-4, which caused a massive cellular influx of fluid, leading to increased astrocyte cell volume and injury,” University of Arkansas Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Kartik Balachandran said. “We then worked with a drug called Acetazolamide. Our results showed that Acetazolamide minimized cell swelling and injury, suggesting a therapeutic role for this drug in reducing the detrimental effects of concussions.”
 
Using a benchtop bioreactor, the researchers examined astrocyte cells and saw that aquaporin-4 was more expressed following mild traumatic brain injuries, leading to a cellular influx of fluid and swelling of the astrocyte cells. This swelling, or edema, is one of the leading causes of death in patients with concussions. The researchers also found that pre-treating cells with an existing drug currently in use to treat epilepsy and altitude sickness can reduce the expression of aquaportin-4.
 
“This study demonstrates the collaborative neuro-engineering efforts that are contributing to both diagnostic and therapeutic methods for addressing traumatic brain injury,” University of Arkansas Department of Biomedical Engineering Chair Raj Rao said.

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