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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Models of Traumatic Cerebellar Injury

  • Author(s): Potts, Matthew B.
  • Adwanikar, Hita
  • Noble-Haeusslein, Linda J.
  • et al.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Studies of human TBI demonstrate that the cerebellum is sometimes affected even when the initial mechanical insult is directed to the cerebral cortex. Some of the components of TBI, including ataxia, postural instability, tremor, impairments in balance and fine motor skills, and even cognitive deficits, may be attributed in part to cerebellar damage. Animal models of TBI have begun to explore the vulnerability of the cerebellum. In this paper, we review the clinical presentation, pathogenesis, and putative mechanisms underlying cerebellar damage with an emphasis on experimental models that have been used to further elucidate this poorly understood but important aspect of TBI. Animal models of indirect (supratentorial) trauma to the cerebellum, including fluid percussion, controlled cortical impact, weight drop impact acceleration, and rotational acceleration injuries, are considered. In addition, we describe models that produce direct trauma to the cerebellum as well as those that reproduce specific components of TBI including axotomy, stab injury, in vitro stretch injury, and excitotoxicity. Overall, these models reveal robust characteristics of cerebellar damage including regionally specific Purkinje cell injury or loss, activation of glia in a distinct spatial pattern, and traumatic axonal injury. Further research is needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of cerebellar trauma, and the experimental models discussed here offer an important first step toward achieving that objective.

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