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Introduction: Civilians and military personnel develop a range of physical and psychosocial impairments following traumatic brain injury (TBI), including alcohol abuse. As a consequence, increased rates of alcohol misuse magnify TBI‑induced pathologies and impede rehabilitation efforts. Therefore, a developed understanding of the mechanisms that foster susceptibility of the injured brain to alcohol sensitivity and the response of the injured brain to alcohol is imperative for the treatment of TBI patients. Alcohol sensitivity has been demonstrated to be increased following experimental TBI and, in additional studies, regulated by presynaptic vesicle release mechanisms, including synapsin phosphorylation. Materials and Methods: Mice were exposed to controlled midline impact of the intact skull and assessed for cortical, hippocampal, and striatal expression of phosphorylated synapsin I and II in response to high‑dose ethanol exposure administered 14 days following injury, a time point at which injured mice demonstrate increased sedation after ethanol exposure. Results and Discussion: Immunoblot quantitation revealed that TBI alone, compared to sham controls, significantly increased phosphorylated synapsin I and II protein expression in the striatum. In sham controls, ethanol administration significantly increased phosphorylated synapsin I and II protein expression compared to saline‑treated sham controls; however, no significant increase in ethanol‑induced phosphorylated synapsin I and II protein expression was observed in the striatum of injured mice compared to saline‑treated TBI controls. A similar expression pattern was observed in the cortex although restricted to increases in phosphorylated synapsin II. Conclusion: These data show that increased phosphorylated synapsin expression in the injured striatum may reflect a compensatory neuroplastic response to TBI which is proposed to occur as a result of a compromised presynaptic response of the injured brain to high‑dose ethanol. These results offer a mechanistic basis for the altered ethanol sensitivity observed following experimental TBI and contribute to our understanding of alcohol action in the injured brain.


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