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Differential fracture response to traumatic brain injury suggests dominance of neuroinflammatory response in polytrauma

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Polytraumatic injuries, specifically long bone fracture and traumatic brain injury (TBI), frequently occur together. Clinical observation has long held that TBI can accelerate fracture healing, yet the complexity and heterogeneity of these injuries has produced conflicting data with limited information on underlying mechanisms. We developed a murine polytrauma model with TBI and fracture to evaluate healing in a controlled system. Fractures were created both contralateral and ipsilateral to the TBI to test whether differential responses of humoral and/or neuronal systems drove altered healing patterns. Our results show increased bone formation after TBI when injuries occur contralateral to each other, rather than ipsilateral, suggesting a role of the nervous system based on the crossed neuroanatomy of motor and sensory systems. Analysis of the humoral system shows that blood cell counts and inflammatory markers are differentially modulated by polytrauma. A data-driven multivariate analysis integrating all outcome measures showed a distinct pathological state of polytrauma and co-variations between fracture, TBI and systemic markers. Taken together, our results suggest that a contralateral bone fracture and TBI alter the local neuroinflammatory state to accelerate early fracture healing. We believe applying a similar data-driven approach to clinical polytrauma may help to better understand the complicated pathophysiological mechanisms of healing.

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