“Hacking” the Immune System May Prevent Long Term Disability After Brain Injury


A recent publication in Science “Complement factor C1q mediates sleep spindle loss and epileptic spikes after mild brain injury” examined the secondary injuries following traumatic brain injury. They investigated why there is a continued decline in function of the brain following the injury and what it is that causes this. 

What is TBI and Why Does it Matter?

TBI (traumatic brain injury) is a leading cause of disability in children and adults worldwide and has many causes from car accidents, sporting accidents, violent assaults and slip and falls. The costs – human, financial, social, and healthcare – are enormous and life-altering.

What Does Research Find?

A new study examined the effects of TBI on the thalamus region of the brain which regulates sleep and attention. It found that the thalamus is more damaged months after injury than the cortex of the brain. The researchers speculate that this occurs due to increased levels of a molecule called Clq that triggers the part of the immune system called the Classical Complement Pathway. This mechanism plays a key role in clearing dead cells and pathogens and in controlling the inflammatory immune response.

What is the Purpose of Clq Molecule?

Clq can have two impacts on the brain:

  • Accumulation of it can cause abnormal elimination of synapses and contribute to neurodegenerative disease
  • It is also required in proper amounts for normal brain development, and it protects the central nervous system from infection.

In the event of TBI the researchers found that the Clq molecule lingered in the thalamus for months after the initial injury at abnormally high levels. This accumulation was associated with:

  • Inflammation
  • Neuronal death
  • Brain circuits behave dysfunctionally

Why is Too Much Clq Bad?

The accumulation could be the underlying cause of many of the long term symptoms of TBI including

  • Brain injury
  • Sleep disruption
  • Epilepsy

These symptoms then contribute to other issues including mood disorders, depression and mental health decline.

The researchers conducted their research on mice that they had genetically engineered to lack the Clq molecules. The impact of brain injury on these modified mice appeared much worse than in the control group suggesting that Clq is critical at the time of injury to prevent cell death.

Why this is important

Since TBI affects almost 70 million people a year worldwide we need to develop therapies that prevent the long-term damage to the brain following TBI. This would save lives, save money, and allow those with TBI to live longer healthier and more productive lives.

What Should You Do if You or A Loved One Sustain TBI?

If you or a loved one have been injured and suffered a TBI as a result of someone else’s negligence you should contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers At Deutschmann Personal Injury and Disability Law immediately. We offer a free initial consultation and will work for you to achieve the best outcome for you and your family. Don’t face your situation alone. Call us today 1 (866) 414-4878