Millions of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur annually. TBIs commonly result from falls, traffic accidents, and sports-related injuries, all of which involve rotational acceleration/deceleration of the brain. During these injuries, the brain endures a multitude of primary insults including compression of brain tissue, damaged vasculature, and diffuse axonal injury. All of these deleterious effects can contribute to secondary brain ischemia, cellular death, and neuroinflammation that progress for weeks, months, and lifetime after injury. While the linear effects of head trauma have been extensively modeled, less is known about how rotational injuries mediate neuronal damage following injury. Here, we developed a new model of repetitive rotational head trauma in rodents and demonstrated acute and prolonged pathological, behavioral, and electrophysiological effects of rotational TBI (rTBI). We identify aberrant Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) activity as a principal mediator of rTBI. We utilized Cdk5-enriched phosphoproteomics to uncover potential downstream mediators of rTBI and show pharmacological inhibition of Cdk5 reduces the cognitive and pathological consequences of injury. These studies contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the mechanisms of rTBI and how they may be effectively treated.
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