Numbers of Axons in Spared Neural Tissue Bridges But Not Their Widths or Areas Correlate With Functional Recovery in Spinal Cord-Injured Rats

Svenja Rink, Stoyan Pavlov, Aliona Wöhler, Habib Bendella, Marilena Manthou, Theodora Papamitsou, Sarah A. Dunlop, Doychin N. Angelov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The relationships between various parameters of tissue damage and subsequent functional recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI) are not well understood. Patients may regain micturition control and walking despite large postinjury medullar cavities. The objective of this study was to establish possible correlations between morphological findings and degree of functional recovery after spinal cord compression at vertebra Th8 in rats. Recovery of motor (Basso, Beattie, Bresnahan, foot-stepping angle, rump-height index, and ladder climbing), sensory (withdrawal latency), and bladder functions was analyzed at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 weeks post-SCI. Following perfusion fixation, spinal cord tissue encompassing the injury site was cut in longitudinal frontal sections. Lesion lengths, lesion volumes, and areas of perilesional neural tissue bridges were determined after staining with cresyl violet. The numbers of axons in these bridges were quantified after staining for class III β-tubulin. We found that it was not the area of the spared tissue bridges, which is routinely determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but the numbers of axons in them that correlated with functional recovery after SCI (Spearman's ρ > 0.8; p < 0.001). We conclude that prognostic statements based only on MRI measurements should be considered with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1217
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Volume79
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

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