Acute theophylline exposure modulates breathing activity through a cervical contusion

Kevin C. Hoy, Warren J. Alilain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Cervical spinal contusion injuries are the most common form of spinal cord injury (>. 50%) observed in humans. These injuries can result in the impaired ability to breathe. In this study we examine the role of theophylline in the rescue of breathing behavior after a cervical spinal contusion. Previous research in the C2 hemisection model has shown that acute administration of theophylline can rescue phrenic nerve activity and diaphragmatic EMG on the side ipsilateral to injury. However, this effect is dependent on intact and uninjured pathways. In this study we utilized a cervical contusion injury model that more closely mimics the human condition. This injury model can determine the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions, in this case theophylline, on the isolated contused pathways of the spinal cord. Three weeks after a 150. kD C3/4 unilateral contusion subjects received a 15. mg/kg dose of theophylline prior to a contralateral C2 hemisection. Subjects that received theophylline were able to effectively utilize damaged pathways to breathe for up to 2. min, while subjects treated with saline were unable to support ventilation. Through these experiments, we demonstrate that theophylline can make injured pathways that mediate breathing more effective and therefore, suggest a potential therapeutic role in the critical time points immediately after injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-76
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by grants from the International Spinal Research Trust in the UK ( STR117 ) and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation (# 221988 (WJA) and # 295998 (KCH)) and funds from MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc..


  • Breathing
  • Contusion
  • Injury
  • SCI
  • Spinal cord
  • Theophylline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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