Antagonism of purinergic signalling improves recovery from traumatic brain injury

Anthony M. Choo, William J. Miller, Yung Chia Chen, Philip Nibley, Tapan P. Patel, Cezar Goletiani, Barclay Morrison, Melinda K. Kutzing, Bonnie L. Firestein, Jai Yoon Sul, Philip G. Haydon, David F. Meaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recent public awareness of the incidence and possible long-term consequences of traumatic brain injury only heightens the need to develop effective approaches for treating this neurological disease. In this report, we identify a new therapeutic target for traumatic brain injury by studying the role of astrocytes, rather than neurons, after neurotrauma. We use in vivo multiphoton imaging and show that mechanical forces during trauma trigger intercellular calcium waves throughout the astrocytes, and these waves are mediated by purinergic signalling. Subsequent in vitro screening shows that astrocyte signalling through the 'mechanical penumbra' affects the activity of neural circuits distant from the injury epicentre, and a reduction in the intercellular calcium waves within astrocytes restores neural activity after injury. In turn, the targeting of different purinergic receptor populations leads to a reduction in hippocampal cell death in mechanically injured organotypic slice cultures. Finally, the most promising therapeutic candidate from our in vitro screen (MRS 2179, a P2Y1 receptor antagonist) also improves histological and cognitive outcomes in a preclinical model of traumatic brain injury. This work shows the potential of studying astrocyte signalling after trauma to yield new and effective therapeutic targets for treating traumatic brain injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-80
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • MRS 2179
  • astrocytes
  • calcium waves
  • in vivo imaging
  • neuroprotection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Antagonism of purinergic signalling improves recovery from traumatic brain injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this