Establishing the ferret as a gyrencephalic animal model of traumatic brain injury: Optimization of controlled cortical impact procedures

Susan C. Schwerin, Elizabeth B. Hutchinson, Kryslaine L. Radomski, Kapinga P. Ngalula, Carlo M. Pierpaoli, Sharon L. Juliano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background Although rodent TBI studies provide valuable information regarding the effects of injury and recovery, an animal model with neuroanatomical characteristics closer to humans may provide a more meaningful basis for clinical translation. The ferret has a high white/gray matter ratio, gyrencephalic neocortex, and ventral hippocampal location. Furthermore, ferrets are amenable to behavioral training, have a body size compatible with pre-clinical MRI, and are cost-effective. New methods We optimized the surgical procedure for controlled cortical impact (CCI) using 9 adult male ferrets. We used subject-specific brain/skull morphometric data from anatomical MRIs to overcome across-subject variability for lesion placement. We also reflected the temporalis muscle, closed the craniotomy, and used antibiotics. We then gathered MRI, behavioral, and immunohistochemical data from 6 additional animals using the optimized surgical protocol: 1 control, 3 mild, and 1 severely injured animals (surviving one week) and 1 moderately injured animal surviving sixteen weeks. Results The optimized surgical protocol resulted in consistent injury placement. Astrocytic reactivity increased with injury severity showing progressively greater numbers of astrocytes within the white matter. The density and morphological changes of microglia amplified with injury severity or time after injury. Motor and cognitive impairments scaled with injury severity. Comparison with existing method(s) The optimized surgical methods differ from those used in the rodent, and are integral to success using a ferret model. Conclusions We optimized ferret CCI surgery for consistent injury placement. The ferret is an excellent animal model to investigate pathophysiological and behavioral changes associated with TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-96
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Jun 15 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute
  • Antibiotics
  • Astrocytes
  • Behavior
  • CCI
  • Chronic
  • Cognitive
  • Craniotomy
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Impairment
  • Inflammation
  • Landmarks
  • MRI
  • Microglia
  • Motor
  • Reproducibility
  • Surgery
  • TBI
  • Temporalis
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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