Basic fibroblast growth factor-enhanced neurogenesis contributes to cognitive recovery in rats following traumatic brain injury

Dong Sun, M. Ross Bullock, Melissa J. McGinn, Zhengwen Zhou, Nabil Altememi, Sarah Hagood, Robert Hamm, Raymond J. Colello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Stem/progenitor cells reside throughout the adult CNS and are actively dividing in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus. This neurogenic capacity of the SVZ and DG is enhanced following traumatic brain injury (TBI) suggesting that the adult brain has the inherent potential to restore populations lost to injury. This raises the possibility of developing strategies aimed at harnessing the neurogenic capacity of these regions to repair the damaged brain. One strategy is to enhance neurogenesis with mitogenic factors. As basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a potent stem cell mitogen, we set out to determine if an intraventricular administration of bFGF following TBI could affect the levels of injury-induced neurogenesis in the SVZ and DG, and the degree to which this is associated with cognitive recovery. Specifically, adult rats received a bFGF intraventricular infusion for 7 days immediately following TBI. BrdU was administered to animals daily at 2-7 days post-injury to label cell proliferation. At 1 or 4 weeks post-injury, brain sections were immunostained for BrdU and neuronal or astrocytic markers. We found that injured animals infused with bFGF exhibited significantly enhanced cell proliferation in the SVZ and the DG at 1 week post-TBI as compared to vehicle-infused animals. Moreover, following bFGF infusion, a greater number of the newly generated cells survived to 4 weeks post-injury, with the majority being neurons. Additionally, animals infused with bFGF showed significant cognitive improvement. Collectively, the current findings suggest that bFGF-enhanced neurogenesis contributes to cognitive recovery following TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • bFGF
  • Hippocampus
  • Morris water maze
  • Neurogenesis
  • SVZ
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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