Midbrain raphe stimulation improves behavioral and anatomical recovery from fluid-percussion brain injury

Melissa M.Carballos Gonzalez, Meghan O. Blaya, Ofelia F. Alonso, Helen M. Bramlett, Ian D. Hentall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The midbrain median raphe (MR) and dorsal raphe (DR) nuclei were tested for their capacity to regulate recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI). An implanted, wireless self-powered stimulator delivered intermittent 8-Hz pulse trains for 7 days to the rat's MR or DR, beginning 4-6 h after a moderate parasagittal (right) fluid-percussion injury. MR stimulation was also examined with a higher frequency (24 Hz) or a delayed start (7 days after injury). Controls had sham injuries, inactive stimulators, or both. The stimulation caused no apparent acute responses or adverse long-term changes. In water-maze trials conducted 5 weeks post-injury, early 8-Hz MR and DR stimulation restored the rate of acquisition of reference memory for a hidden platform of fixed location. Short-term spatial working memory, for a variably located hidden platform, was restored only by early 8-Hz MR stimulation. All stimulation protocols reversed injury-induced asymmetry of spontaneous forelimb reaching movements tested 6 weeks post-injury. Post-mortem histological measurement at 8 weeks post-injury revealed volume losses in parietal-occipital cortex and decussating white matter (corpus callosum plus external capsule), but not hippocampus. The cortical losses were significantly reversed by early 8-Hz MR and DR stimulation, the white matter losses by all forms of MR stimulation. The generally most effective protocol, 8-Hz MR stimulation, was tested 3 days post-injury for its acute effect on forebrain cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a key trophic signaling molecule. This procedure reversed injury-induced declines of cAMP levels in both cortex and hippocampus. In conclusion, midbrain raphe nuclei can enduringly enhance recovery from early disseminated TBI, possibly in part through increased signaling by cAMP in efferent targets. A neurosurgical treatment for TBI using interim electrical stimulation in raphe repair centers is suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2013


  • cAMP
  • deep brain stimulation
  • forebrain trauma
  • forelimb reaching
  • neuroanatomical volume
  • water maze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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