Evaluation of conditions for calpain inhibition in the rat spinal cord: Effective postinjury inhibition with intraspinal MDL28170 microinjection

Shu Xin Zhang, Vimala Bondada, James W. Geddes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Calpains (calcium-activated cysteine proteases) are strongly implicated in the secondary damage that follows contusion injury to the spinal cord. Calpains are activated within a few minutes following injury and their elevated activity persists for 24 h, thereby providing a reasonable window of opportunity for postinjury inhibition. Previous studies demonstrated decreased axonal damage and neurofilament proteolysis with postinjury intravenous administration of relatively low concentrations of the calpain inhibitors leupeptin, E-64-D, and calpeptin. We sought to determine if conditions under which calpain inhibitors were administered in previous studies resulted in effective calpain inhibition, and to identify conditions that result in significant calpain inhibition following spinal cord injury. Contusive spinal cord injury was produced in female Long-Evans rats using the NYU impactor at the 12.5-25-mm height setting. The results demonstrate that intravenous administration of 1 mg/kg E-64-D or 250 μg/kg calpeptin does not inhibit total calpain activity in the rat spinal cord, measured using a BODIPY-FL labeled casein assay. Intravenous administration of MDL28170 (20 mg/kg) resulted in mild calpain inhibition and a modest decrease in the proteolysis of calpain substrates a-spectrin and MAP2. Intraspinal microinjection of 50 nmoles/19 μg MDL28170, either 30 min prior to or 20 min following contusion injury, resulted in a more robust inhibition of total calpain activity and greater attenuation of α-spectrin breakdown and MAP2 proteolysis. The decreased proteolysis persisted 24 h postinjury. Together, the results demonstrate that direct microinjection of the calpain inhibitor MDL28170 is more effective than intravenous infusion in reducing calpain activity and decreasing the injury-induced proteolysis of calpain substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Intraspinal
  • Intravenous
  • MAP2
  • Spectrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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