Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Molecular Psychiatry

First Advisor

Pieper, Andrew A.

First Committee Member

Lutter, Michael L.

Second Committee Member

Wemmie, John A.

Third Committee Member

Bassuk, Alexander

Fourth Committee Member

Harper, Matthew M.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes life-debilitating conditions. While patient survival after a TBI has improved, the outlook for quality of life after TBI currently remains poor. In order to address this problem, there is a significant unmet need for new therapeutic options to prevent progression of deficits associated with TBI. To this end, we investigated two strategies to combat the deleterious affect of TBI. First, we targeted cerebral acidosis associated with TBI by testing whether disruption of acid sensing ion channel 1a (ASIC1a) in CNS, or buffering acidosis with sodium bicarbonate, could prevent neurological deficits after TBI. We next tested whether treatment with the neovel class of aminopropyl carbozoles, known as the P7C3 series, could also prevent TBI-associated neurological decline.

Using the mouse fluid percussion injury model of TBI, we observed post-injury acidosis in the cortex, consistent with what has been shown in humans following brain injury. Administering HCO3- after fluid percussion injury prevented acidosis and reduced neurodegeneration. Because acidosis activates acid sensing ion channels (ASICs), we also studied AIC1a-/- mice and found reduced neurodegeneration after injury. Both HCO3-3 administration and loss of ASIC1a reduced functional deficits caused by fluid percussion injury. These results suggest that fluid percussion injury induces cerebral acidosis, which activates ASIC channels in the brain and contributes to neurodegeneration. Blocking ASIC1aactivity may thus offer a new therapeutic strategy to attenuate the adverse consequences of TBI.

We next applied the blast injury model of TBI to test whether the P7C3 class of neuroprotective aminopropyl carbazoles would be of therapeutic benefit. In addition to preventing neuronal cell death, P7C3 molecules also preserved axonal integrity before neuronal cell loss in this model. The mechanism of P7C3 neuroprotection may be linked to its ability to activate the enzyme, nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase, which catalyzed the rate limiting step of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide salvage pathway. Administration of the lead compound in the series, P7C3-S243, 1 day after blast-mediated TBI blocked axonal degeneration and preserved normal synaptic activity. P7C3-S243 administration also reduced neuronal functional deficits, including impaired learning, memory, and motor coordination in mice. We additionally reported persistent neurologic deficits and acquisition of anxiety-like phenotype in untreated animals 8-months after blast-mediated TBI. Optimized variants of P7C3 thus offer hope for identifying neuroprotective agents for conditions involving axonal damage, neuronal cell death, or both. Together, the results of this body of work identify novel therapeutic interventions that may attenuate deficits associated with TBI, and thus improve the quality of life in people after TBI.


xiii, 134 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 118-134).


Revised dissertation. Posted 28 Feb 2017.


Copyright 2015 Terry Yin