Traumatic Brain Injury and Blood–Brain Barrier (BBB): Underlying Pathophysiological Mechanisms and the Influence of Cigarette Smoking as a Premorbid Condition
International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is among the most pressing global health issues and prevalent causes of cerebrovascular and neurological disorders all over the world. In addition to the brain injury, TBI may also alter the systemic immune response. Thus, TBI patients become vulnerable to infections, have worse neurological outcomes, and exhibit a higher rate of mortality and morbidity. It is well established that brain injury leads to impairments of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) integrity and
... integrity and function, contributing to the loss of neural tissue and affecting the response to neuroprotective drugs. Thus, stabilization/protection of the BBB after TBI could be a promising strategy to limit neuronal inflammation, secondary brain damage, and acute neurodegeneration. Herein, we present a review highlighting the significant post-traumatic effects of TBI on the cerebrovascular system. These include the loss of BBB integrity and selective permeability, impact on BBB transport mechanisms, post-traumatic cerebral edema formation, and significant pathophysiological factors that may further exacerbate post-traumatic BBB dysfunctions. Furthermore, we discuss the post-traumatic impacts of chronic smoking, which has been recently shown to act as a premorbid condition that impairs post-TBI recovery. Indeed, understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms associated with TBI damage is essential to better understand the pathogenesis and progression of post-traumatic secondary brain injury and the development of targeted treatments to improve outcomes and speed up the recovery process. Therapies aimed at restoring/protecting the BBB may reduce the post-traumatic burden of TBI by minimizing the impairment of brain homeostasis and help to restore an optimal microenvironment to support neuronal repair.