Progression of histopathological and behavioral abnormalities following mild traumatic brain injury in the male ferret

Susan C. Schwerin, Mitali Chatterjee, Aminat O. Imam-Fulani, Kryslaine L. Radomski, Elizabeth B. Hutchinson, Carlo M. Pierpaoli, Sharon L. Juliano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


White matter damage is an important consequence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in humans. Unlike rodents, ferrets have a substantial amount of white matter and a gyrencephalic brain; therefore, they may represent an ideal small mammal model to study human-pertinent consequences of TBI. Here we report immunohistochemical and behavioral results after a controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury to the sensorimotor cortex of adult male ferrets. We assessed inflammation in the neocortex and white matter, and behavior at 1 day post injury and 1, 4, and 16 weeks post injury (WPI). CCI in the ferret produced inflammation that originated in the neocortex near the site of the injury and progressed deep into the white matter with time. The density of microglia and astrocytes increased in the neocortex near the injury, peaking at 4WPI and remaining elevated at 16WPI. Microglial morphology in the neocortex was significantly altered in the first 4 weeks, but showed a return toward normal at 16 weeks. Clusters of microglial cells in the white matter persisted until 16WPI. We assessed motor and cognitive behavior using the open field, novel object recognition, T-maze, and gait tests. A transient deficit in memory occurred at 4WPI, with a reduction of rearing and motor ability at 12 and 16WPI. Behavioral impairments coincide with features of the inflammatory changes in the neocortex revealed by immunohistochemistry. The ferret represents an important animal model to explore ongoing damage in the white matter and cerebral cortex after TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-572
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • astrocytes
  • astrogliosis
  • attention
  • behavior
  • brain
  • cerebral cortex
  • cognitive impairment
  • GFAP
  • gray matter
  • mammals
  • memory
  • neuroinflammation
  • reactive microglia
  • TBI (traumatic brain injury)
  • white matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Progression of histopathological and behavioral abnormalities following mild traumatic brain injury in the male ferret'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this