Traumatic Brain Injury

In Vivo Metabolic Imaging of NeuroInflammation after Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) outcome is difficult to predict using conventional methods; all current prognostic markers present intrinsic limitations. It is nonetheless clear that neuroinflammation, especially mononuclear phagocytes (microglia/macrophages, MPs) plays a significant role in TBI progression and associated outcome; however, to date, no neuroimaging methods can non-invasively distinguish between pro-inflammatory and  neuroprotective MPs in vivo, thus hampering the complete understanding of the role of MPs following injury and their potential role in TBI-induced cognitive deficits. By looking at MPs polarization from the new perspective of metabolism, a field emerging as immunometabolism, we work on overcoming these barriers and validate  new non-invasive imaging methods for longitudinal evaluation of MPs polarization. Such methods will not only improve our scientific knowledge on the in vivo dynamics of MPs in TBI, but will also, because the proposed method is clinically translatable, improve clinical practice by allowing refined monitoring of TBI-induced inflammation, improved prediction of outcome and therapeutic response.

On this project, we work closely with our great colleague Prof. Susanna Rosi, Ph.D., whose lab focuses on elucidating how injury-induced alterations in integrated stress response, innate immune response, post transcription/translational modifications, and chronic neuroinflammation affect various neural processes underlying cognitive function.