Acute inflammatory response in spinal cord following impact injury

Sonia L. Carlson, Mark E. Parrish, Joe E. Springer, Ketah Doty, Lee Dossett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

441 Scopus citations


Numerous factors are involved in the spread of secondary damage in spinal cord after traumatic injury, including ischemia, edema, increased excitatory amino acids, and oxidative damage to the tissue from reactive oxygen species. Neutrophils and macrophages can produce reactive oxygen species when activated and thus may contribute to the lipid peroxidation that is known to occur after spinal cord injury. This study examined the rostral- caudal distribution of neutrophils and macrophages/microglia at 4, 6, 24, and 48 h after contusion injury to the T10 spinal cord of rat (10 g weight, 50 mm drop). Neutrophils were located predominantly in necrotic regions, with a time course that peaked at 24 h as measured with assays of myeloperoxidase activity (MPO). The sharpest peak of MPO activity was localized between 4 mm rostral and caudal to the injury. Macrophages/microglia were visualized with antibodies against ED1 and OX-42. Numerous cells with a phagocytic morphology were present by 24 h, with a higher number by 48 h. These cells were predominantly located within the gray matter and dorsal funiculus white matter. The number of cells gradually declined through 6 mm rostral and caudal to the lesion. OX-42 staining also revealed reactive microglia with blunt processes, particularly at levels distant to the lesion. The number of macrophages/microglia was significantly correlated with the amount of tissue damage at each level. Treatments to decrease the inflammatory response are likely to be beneficial to recovery of function after traumatic spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Kentucky Spinal Cord and Head Injury Research Trust (S.L.C.).

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Inflammat ion
  • Macrophage
  • Microglia
  • Myeloperoxidase
  • Neutrophil
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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