Research Areas

Beta-Adrenergic Blockade and Traumatic Brain Injury

Researchers in the Ley Laboratory are currently examining how beta-adrenergic receptor inhibition can reduce secondary injuries after traumatic brain injury (TBI). This topic is pursued through an in vivo genetically modified knockout mouse model targeting the β1-adrenergic/β2-adrenergic receptor and a stereotaxic impact device. In addition, studies include an in vitro primary cell model for diffuse axonal injury using the Cell Injury Controller device. Because our ultimate goals are translational, the Ley Lab also studies the effects of established beta-blockers such as propranolol. These drugs show promise in mitigating damage from traumatic brain injury.

Figure 1. Stereotaxic impact device used for the in vivo model of traumatic brain injury.

Figure 2. Post-TBI mouse running the Rotarod performance test for balance and coordination.

Figure 3. Cerebral glucose metabolism after TBI, measured in standardized uptake values (SUV).
(Ley EJ, Clond MA, Bukur M, et al., 2012).

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Traumatic Brain Injury

In collaboration with Clive Svendsen, PhD, the Ley Lab examines the connection between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and traumatic brain injury. Current research on whether traumatic brain injury can cause ALS is inconclusive. We are currently subjecting a rat model that expresses the SOD1 gene to stereotaxic impact to determine whether this affects the onset of ALS.

Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury

In collaboration with Patrick Lyden, MD, and Paul Lapchak, PhD, we are applying the oxygen deprivation model used for stroke to more accurately model the ischemic damage caused by traumatic brain injury. This model is used in conjunction with the Cell Injury Controller.

Figure 4. Rat primary cortical neurons, stained for beta-adrenergic receptors, for the oxygen-glucose deprivation model.

Alzheimer's Disease and Traumatic Brain Injury

Our research in Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury is not yet fully developed; however, the Ley Lab intends to use the diffuse axonal injury model on primary neurons from mice with Alzheimer's.

Clinical Research

The Ley Lab is also involved in a variety of clinical research projects, including optimizing heart rate after trauma and examining human factors to improve healthcare safety and efficiency.