Gabapentin suppresses spasticity in the spinal cord-injured rat

P. H. Kitzman, T. L. Uhl, M. K. Dwyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Spasticity poses a major detrimental impact on the quality of life in a significant number of people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Recent observations in our laboratory suggest that spinal transection at the sacral S2 level induces a significant increase in glutamatergic input to sacrocaudal motoneurons during the time spasticity is present in the tail muscles. The present study examined the efficacy of gabapentin, an agent that has been shown to reduce glutamate release, in managing spasticity within the tail musculature. Method: In this blinded, crossover study adult Sprague-Dawley rats with S2 spinal transections were tested behaviorally for the progression of spasticity in the tail musculature using our established system. When the animals demonstrated a significant level of spastic behavior (e.g. increased response to quick stretch, noxious and non-noxious cutaneous stimuli), they received either saline or the antiepileptic agent gabapentin (GBP; 50 mg/kg i.p.) and were assessed behaviorally and electrophysiologically at 1, 3, 6, 12 and 24 h post-injection. Results: Both spastic behavior and electromyography (EMG) activity were significantly decreased at 1 and 3 h post-GBP injection when compared with the activity level following administration of saline. Spastic behavior and EMG activity gradually increased over time and returned to baseline activity by 24 h post-injection. Conclusion: Gabapentin diminishes both the behavioral and electrophysiological manifestation of SCI-induced spasticity, in the tail musculature, in a time dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-821
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 23 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Ms. Jyothi Mula for her technical assistance. Funding for this project was provided by a grant from the Kentucky Spinal Cord and Head Injury Research Trust # 4–8.


  • muscle hyperreflexia
  • presynaptic glutamate inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Gabapentin suppresses spasticity in the spinal cord-injured rat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this