Improvement of Blood-Brain Barrier Integrity in Traumatic Brain Injury and Hemorrhagic Shock Following Treatment with Valproic Acid and Fresh Frozen Plasma

Vahagn C. Nikolian, Simone E. Dekker, Ted Bambakidis, Gerald A. Higgins, Isabel S. Dennahy, Patrick E. Georgoff, Aaron M. Williams, Anuska V. Andjelkovic, Hasan B. Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objective: Combined traumatic brain injury and hemorrhagic shock are highly lethal. Following injuries, the integrity of the blood-brain barrier can be impaired, contributing to secondary brain insults. The status of the blood-brain barrier represents a potential factor impacting long-term neurologic outcomes in combined injuries. Treatment strategies involving plasma-based resuscitation and valproic acid therapy have shown efficacy in this setting. We hypothesize that a component of this beneficial effect is related to blood-brain barrier preservation. Design: Following controlled traumatic brain injury, hemorrhagic shock, various resuscitation and treatment strategies were evaluated for their association with blood-brain barrier integrity. Analysis of gene expression profiles was performed using Porcine Gene ST 1.1 microarray. Pathway analysis was completed using network analysis tools (Gene Ontology, Ingenuity Pathway Analysis, and Parametric Gene Set Enrichment Analysis). Subjects: Female Yorkshire swine were subjected to controlled traumatic brain injury and 2 hours of hemorrhagic shock (40% blood volume, mean arterial pressure 30-35 mmHg). Interventions: Subjects were resuscitated with 1) normal saline, 2) fresh frozen plasma, 3) hetastarch, 4) fresh frozen plasma + valproic acid, or 5) hetastarch + valproic acid (n = 5 per group). After 6 hours of observation, brains were harvested for evaluation. Measurements and Main Results: Immunofluoroscopic evaluation of the traumatic brain injury site revealed significantly increased expression of tight-junction associated proteins (zona occludin-1, claudin-5) following combination therapy (fresh frozen plasma + valproic acid and hetastarch + valproic acid). The extracellular matrix protein laminin was found to have significantly improved expression with combination therapies. Pathway analysis indicated that valproic acid significantly modulated pathways involved in endothelial barrier function and cell signaling. Conclusions: Resuscitation with fresh frozen plasma results in improved expression of proteins essential for blood-brain barrier integrity. The addition of valproic acid provides significant improvement to these protein expression profiles. This is likely secondary to activation of key pathways related to endothelial functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e59-e66
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • blood-brain barrier
  • endothelial permeability
  • fresh frozen plasma
  • traumatic brain injury
  • valproic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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