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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability, particularly among the young. Despite this, no disease-specific treatments exist. Recently, blood-brain barrier disruption and parenchymal fibrinogen deposition have been reported in acute traumatic brain injury and in long-term survival; however, their contribution to the neuropathology of TBI remains unknown. The presence of fibrinogen-a well-documented activator of microglia/macrophages-may be associated with neuroinflammation, and neuronal/axonal injury. To test this hypothesis, cases of human TBI with survival times ranging from 12 h to 13 years (survival <2 months, n = 15; survival >1 year, n = 6) were compared with uninjured controls (n = 15). Tissue was selected from the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, corpus callosum, cingulate gyrus, and brainstem, and the extent of plasma protein (fibrinogen and immunoglobulin G [IgG]) deposition, microglial/macrophage activation (CD68 and ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 [Iba-1] immunoreactivity), neuronal density, and axonal transport impairment (β-amyloid precursor protein [βAPP] immunoreactivity) were assessed. Quantitative analysis revealed a significant increase in parenchymal fibrinogen and IgG deposition following acute TBI compared with long-term survival and control. Fibrinogen, but not IgG, was associated with microglial/macrophage activation and a significant reduction in neuronal density. Perivascular fibrinogen deposition also was associated with microglial/macrophage clustering and accrual of βAPP in axonal spheroids, albeit rarely. These findings mandate the future exploration of causal relationships between fibrinogen deposition, microglia/macrophage activation, and potential neuronal loss in acute TBI.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurotrauma

Publication Date



TBI, fibrinogen, microglia, neurodegeneration