Experimental Animal Models for Studies on the Mechanisms of Blast-induced Neurotrauma
Journal article, 2012
A blast injury is a complex type of physical trauma resulting from the detonation of explosive compounds and has become an important issue due to the use of improvised explosive devices (IED) in current military conflicts. Blast-induced neurotrauma (BINT) is a major concern in contemporary military medicine and includes a variety of injuries that range from mild to lethal. Extreme forces and their complex propagation characterize BINT. Modern body protection and the development of armored military vehicles can be assumed to have changed the outcome of BINT. Primary blast injuries are caused by overpressure waves whereas secondary, tertiary, and quaternary blast injuries can have more varied origins such as the impact of fragments, abnormal movements, or heat. The characteristics of the blast wave can be assumed to be significantly different in open field detonations compared to explosions in a confined space, such an armored vehicle. Important parameters include peak pressure, duration, and shape of the pulse. Reflections from walls and armor can make the prediction of effects in individual cases very complex. Epidemiological data do not contain information of the comparative importance of the different blast mechanisms. It is therefore important to generate data in carefully designed animal models. Such models can be selective reproductions of a primary blast, penetrating injuries from fragments, acceleration movements, or combinations of such mechanisms. It is of crucial importance that the physical parameters of the employed models are well characterized so that the experiments can be reproduced in different laboratory settings. Ideally, pressure recordings should be calibrated by using the same equipment in several laboratories. With carefully designed models and thoroughly evaluated animal data it should be possible to achieve a translation of data between animal and clinical data. Imaging and computer simulation represent a possible link between experiments and studies of human cases. However, in order for mathematical simulations to be completely useful, the predictions will most likely have to be validated by detailed data from animal experiments. Some aspects of BINT can conceivably be studied in vitro. However, factors such as systemic response, brain edema, inflammation, vasospasm, or changes in synaptic transmission and behavior must be evaluated in experimental animals. Against this background, it is necessary that such animal experiments are carefully developed imitations of actual components in the blast injury. This paper describes and discusses examples of different designs of experimental models relevant to BINT.