Cognitive deficits after traumatic brain injury
are a leading cause of disability worldwide, yet no effective pharmacologic treatments exist to improve cognition
. Traumatic brain injury
increases proinflammatory cytokines, which trigger excess function of α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors
. In several models of brain injury, drugs that inhibit α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor function improve cognitive performance. Thus, we postulated that inhibiting α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors
would improve cognitive performance after traumatic brain injury
. In addition, because traumatic brain injury
reduces long-term potentiation in the hippocampus
, a cellular correlate of memory, we studied whether inhibition of α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors
attenuated deficits in long-term potentiation after traumatic brain injury
Experimental animal study.
Adult male mice and hippocampal brain slices.
Anesthetized mice were subjected to traumatic brain injury
with a closed-head, free-weight drop method. One week later, the mice were treated with L-655,708 (0.5 mg/kg), an inhibitor that is selective for α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors
, 30 minutes before undergoing behavioral testing. Problem-solving abilities were assessed using the puzzle box assay, and memory performance was studied with novel object recognition and object place recognition assays. In addition, hippocampal slices were prepared 1 week after traumatic brain injury
, and long-term potentiation was studied using field recordings in the cornu Ammonis 1 region of slices that were perfused with L-655,708 (100 nM).
Measurements and Main Results: Traumatic brain injury
increased the time required to solve difficult but not simple tasks in the puzzle box assay and impaired memory in the novel object recognition and object place recognition assays. L-655,708 improved both problem solving and memory in the traumatic brain injury
mice. Traumatic brain injury
reduced long-term potentiation in the hippocampal slices, and L-655,708 attenuated this reduction.
Pharmacologic inhibition of α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors
attenuated cognitive deficits after traumatic brain injury
and enhanced synaptic plasticity
in hippocampal slices. Collectively, these results suggest that α5 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors
are novel targets for pharmacologic treatment of traumatic brain injury
–induced persistent cognitive deficits.