Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the world's leading causes of morbidity and mortality among young individuals. TBI applies powerful rotational and translational forces to the brain parenchyma, which results in a traumatic diffuse axonal injury (DAI) responsible for brain swelling and neuronal death. Following TBI, axonal degeneration has been identified as a progressive process that starts with disrupted axonal transport causing axonal swelling, followed by secondary axonal disconnection and Wallerian degeneration. These modifications in the axonal cytoskeleton interrupt the axoplasmic transport mechanisms, causing the gradual gathering of transport products so as to generate axonal swellings and modifications in neuronal homeostasis. Oxidative stress with consequent impairment of endogenous antioxidant defense mechanisms plays a significant role in the secondary events leading to neuronal death. Studies support the role of an altered axonal calcium homeostasis as a mechanism in the secondary damage of axon, and suggest that calcium channel blocker can alleviate the secondary damage, as well as other mechanisms implied in the secondary injury, and could be targeted as a candidate for therapeutic approaches. Reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated axonal degeneration is mainly caused by extracellular Ca2+. Increases in the defense mechanisms through the use of exogenous antioxidants may be neuroprotective, particularly if they are given within the neuroprotective time window. A promising potential therapeutic target for DAI is to directly address mitochondria-related injury or to modulate energetic axonal energy failure.
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