Neurocognitive consequences of blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) pose significant concerns for military service members and veterans with the majority of "invisible injury." However, the underlying mechanism of such mild bTBI by low-intensity blast (LIB) exposure for long-term cognitive and mental deficits remains elusive. Our previous studies have shown that mice exposed to LIB result in nanoscale ultrastructural abnormalities in the absence of gross or apparent cellular damage in the brain. Here we tested the hypothesis that glutamatergic hyperexcitability may contribute to long-term learning deficits. Using brain slice electrophysiological recordings, we found an increase in averaged frequencies with a burst pattern of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) in hippocampal CA3 neurons in LIB-exposed mice at 1- and 7-days post injury, which was blocked by a specific NMDA receptor antagonist AP5. In addition, cognitive function assessed at 3-months post LIB exposure by automated home-cage monitoring showed deficits in dynamic patterns of discrimination learning and cognitive flexibility in LIB-exposed mice. Collected hippocampal tissue was further processed for quantitative global-proteomic analysis. Advanced data-independent acquisition for quantitative tandem mass spectrometry analysis identified altered expression of proteins involved in synaptic plasticity and serine protease inhibitors in LIB-exposed mice. Some were correlated with the ability of discrimination learning and cognitive flexibility. These findings show that acute glutamatergic hyperexcitability in the hippocampus induced by LIB may contribute to long-term cognitive dysfunction and protein alterations. Studies using this military-relevant mouse model of mild bTBI provide valuable insights into developing a potential therapeutic strategy to ameliorate hyperexcitability-modulated LIB injuries.


Mining Engineering


U.S. Department of Defense, Grant I01 BX004313-01A1

Keywords and Phrases

Chronic cognitive dysfunction; Glutamatergic hyperexcitability; Home-cage monitoring; Label-free proteomic quantitation; Primary open-field blast

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1095-953X; 0969-9961

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2023 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2022

PubMed ID