Effect of Sex on Motor Function, Lesion Size, and Neuropathic Pain after Contusion Spinal Cord Injury in Mice

Katelyn McFarlane, Taylor E. Otto, William M. Bailey, Amy K. Veldhorst, Renée R. Donahue, Bradley K. Taylor, John C. Gensel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes neurodegeneration, impairs locomotor function, and impacts the quality of life particularly in those individuals in whom neuropathic pain develops. Whether the time course of neurodegeneration, locomotor impairment, or neuropathic pain varies with sex, however, remains understudied. Therefore, the objective of this study in male and female C57BL/6 mice was to evaluate the following outcomes for six weeks after a 75-kdyn thoracic contusion SCI: locomotor function using the Basso Mouse Scale (BMS); spinal cord tissue sparing and rostral-caudal lesion length; and mechanical allodynia and heat hyperalgesia using hindpaw application of Von Frey filaments or radiant heat stimuli, respectively. Although motor function was largely similar between sexes, all of the males, but only half of the females, recovered plantar stepping. Rostral-caudal lesion length was shorter in females than in males. Mechanical allodynia and heat hyperalgesia after SCI developed in all animals, regardless of sex; there were no differences in pain outcomes between sexes. We conclude that contusion SCI yields subtle sex differences in mice depending on the outcome measure but no significant differences in behavioral signs of neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1983-1990
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by NIH NINDS R01NS091582 to JCG and R01DA037621 and R01NS062306 to BKT. We would like to thank Linda Simmerman, Caitlin Seward, and Michael Orr for their support during image acquisition.

Publisher Copyright:
© Katelyn McFarlane et al., 2020; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2020.


  • biological variable
  • brain
  • gender
  • hypersensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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