, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 22-30

Involvement of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injury

Summary

Despite dramatic improvements in the management of traumatic brain injury (TBI), to date there is no effective treatment available to patients, and morbidity and mortality remain high. The damage to the brain occurs in two phases, the initial primary phase being the injury itself, which is irreversible and amenable only to preventive measures to minimize the extent of damage, followed by an ongoing secondary phase, which begins at the time of injury and continues in the ensuing days to weeks. This delayed phase leads to a variety of physiological, cellular, and molecular responses aimed at restoring the homeostasis of the damaged tissue, which, if not controlled, will lead to secondary insults. The development of secondary brain injury represents a window of opportunity in which pharmaceutical compounds with neuroprotective properties could be administered. To establish effective treatments for TBI victims, it is imperative that the complex molecular cascades contributing to secondary injury be fully elucidated. One pathway known to be activated in response to TBI is cellular and humoral inflammation. Neuroinflammation within the injured brain has long been considered to intensify the damage sustained following TBI. However, the accumulated findings from years of clinical and experimental research support the notion that the action of inflammation may differ in the acute and delayed phase after TBI, and that maintaining limited inflammation is essential for repair. This review addresses the role of several cytokines and chemokines following focal and diffuse TBI, as well as the controversies around the use of therapeutic anti-inflammatory treatments versus genetic deletion of cytokine expression.