Following mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), patients may self-treat symptoms of concussion, including post-traumatic headache, taking over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics. Administering one dose of OTC analgesics immediately following experimental brain injury mimics the at-home treated population of concussed patients and may accelerate the understanding of the relationship between brain injury and OTC pharmacological intervention. In the current study, we investigate the effect of acute administration of OTC analgesics on neurological function and cortical cytokine levels after experimental diffuse TBI in the mouse. Adult, male C57BL/6 mice were injured using a midline fluid percussion (mFPI) injury model of concussion (6-10 min righting reflex time for brain-injured mice). Experimental groups included mFPI paired with either ibuprofen (60 mg/kg, i.p.; n = 16), acetaminophen (40 mg/kg, i.p.; n = 9), or vehicle (15 % ethanol (v/v) in 0.9 % saline; n = 13) and sham injury paired OTC medicine or vehicle (n = 7-10 per group). At 24 h after injury, functional outcome was assessed using the rotarod task and a modified neurological severity score. Following behavior assessment, cortical cytokine levels were measured by multiplex ELISA at 24 h post-injury. To evaluate efficacy on acute inflammation, cortical cytokine levels were measured also at 6 h post-injury. In the diffuse brain-injured mouse, immediate pharmacological intervention did not attenuate or exacerbate TBI-induced functional deficits. Cortical cytokine levels were affected by injury, time, or their interaction. However, levels were not affected by treatment at 6 or 24 h post-injury. These data indicate that acute administration of OTC analgesics did not exacerbate or attenuate brain-injury deficits which may inform clinical recommendations for the at-home treated mildly concussed patient.
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