CM – Computer model showing traumatic brain injuries maps the blood vessels of the brain

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Scientists at Imperial College London have developed a new computer model for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that maps blood vessels in a rat brain at high resolution. They believe the new TBI computer model could help improve our understanding of how blood vessels are affected by injuries of this type. The model also helps researchers learn the effects on the protective layer of the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain from harmful circulating molecules and pathogens.

Researchers say that if their method is transferred to the human brain, the new computer simulation could help improve understanding of how TBI develops and how it can be treated and prevented. The simulations could also help replace animal models of TBI, which have the potential to reduce the use of animals in brain research.

Understanding TBI is critical as it is the leading cause of chronic disability in people under 40 years of age. SHT is caused by a severe blow or bump to the head, which is common in traffic accidents, falls, and assaults. Symptoms of TBI include headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and impaired memory. Forces endured during TBI are known to affect blood vessels, but fine details of the relationship between mechanical forces and vascular energy are mysterious. The researchers have created a computer model that depicts the vascular network in the brain in the highest resolution ever, including blood vessels from the rat brain with a diameter of only 10 micrometers.

With the new model, the scientists found that neighboring blood vessels have significantly different stress levels depending on their orientation. For example, blood vessels were less likely to be damaged at a 90-degree angle, and the team found that vessels can be stretched to 14 percent of their length before injury. However, stretching more than 14 percent of the original length would cause injury.

Using rat models, the researchers showed that in TBI there is greater permeability of the blood-brain barrier due to a disruption of the vascular system that becomes visible shortly after the injury. They also hope their models could offer more objective ways to evaluate protective systems like helmets. However, human studies are needed to confirm their results before the model can predict the risk of injury to humans.

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