Brain injury progression after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with worsening cerebral inflammation but it is unknown how a concomitant bone fracture (BF) affects this progression. Enoxaparin (ENX) decreases penumbral leukocyte mobilization after TBI and improves neurologic recovery. We hypothesized that a concomitant BF worsens learning/memory recovery weeks after TBI and that ENX improves this recovery.
CD1 male mice underwent controlled cortical impact or sham craniotomy with or without tibial fracture, receiving either daily ENX (0.8 mg/kg) or saline for 14 days after injury. Randomization defined four groups (Sham, TBI only, TBI + Fx, TBI + Fx + ENX, n = 5/each). Body weight loss and neurologic recovery (Garcia Neurologic Test, max score = 18) were assessed each day. Mouse learning (swimming time [s] and total distance [m] to reach the submerged platform Days 14 to 17 after TBI) and memory (swimming time [s] in platform quadrant after platform removed [probe]) was assessed by the Morris water maze. Ly-6G (cerebral neutrophil sequestration) and glial fibrillary acidic protein were evaluated by immunohistochemistry in brain tissue post mortem. Analysis of variance with Tukey's post hoc test determined significance (p < 0.05).
A concurrent BF worsened Garcia Neurologic Test scores post-TBI Days 2 to 4 (p < 0.01) as compared with TBI only, and ENX reversed this worsening on Day 4 (p < 0.01). Learning was significantly slower (greater swimming time and distance) in TBI + Fx versus TBI only on Day 17 (p < 0.01). This was despite similar swimming velocities in both groups, indicating intact extremity motor function. Memory was similar in isolated TBI and Sham which was significantly better than in TBI + Fx animals (p < 0.05). Glial fibrillary acidic protein–positive cells in penumbral cortex were most prevalent in TBI + Fx animals, significantly greater than in Sham (p < 0.05).
A long BF accompanying TBI worsens early neurologic recovery and subsequent learning/memory. Enoxaparin may partially counter this and improve neurologic recovery.