Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2019

Project Advisor(s)

Geoffrey Tanner, Anastasios Tzingounis, Daniel Mulkey

University Scholar Major

Physiology and Neurobiology


Nationally, the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) exceeds that of all other health diseases with an annual incidence of 1.7 million new cases [Maroon, et al., 2017]. Repeated concussive head trauma has led to behavioral abnormalities such as aggressive or violent behavior, memory loss, and cognitive impairment [Omalu, et al., 2006]. Various forms of dietary therapy, including the ketogenic diet, have been recently studied for a variety of neuropathies. We hypothesized that potentially-neuroprotective dietary interventions might be able to suppress aggression as well as improve cognitive impairment in animals subjected to traumatic brain injury. In this study we supplemented a normal Drosophila diet with the ketogenic metabolite beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). Flies were raised on either their normal (control) diet or the BHB-supplemented diet for their entire lives. On day five post-eclosion, flies were concussed to induce TBI and then, three days after concussion protocol (“banging”), were subjected to either an aggression or learning assay. We found a large increase in aggressive events between banged males on the control diet, however, we observed a reduction in aggression in flies raised on the BHB-supplemented diet. We also found a large learning deficit in banged flies on the control diet, but a reduction of the learning deficit in banged flies on the BHB-supplemented diet. We conclude that dietary interventions may be a possible preventative for clinical behavioral presentations associated with CTE-inducing head trauma in human populations.