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Impact depth and the interaction with impact speed affect the severity of contusion spinal cord injury in rats

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1985-97
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number24
Early online date17 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


Spinal cord injury (SCI) biomechanics suggest that the mechanical factors of impact depth and speed affect the severity of contusion injury, but their interaction is not well understood. The primary aim of this work was to examine both the individual and combined effects of impact depth and speed in contusion SCI on the cervical spinal cord. Spinal cord contusions between C5 and C6 were produced in anesthetized rats at impact speeds of 8, 80, or 800 mm/s with displacements of 0.9 or 1.5 mm (n=8/group). After 7 days postinjury, rats were assessed for open-field behavior, euthanized, and spinal cords were harvested. Spinal cord tissue sections were stained for demyelination (myelin-based protein) and tissue sparing (Luxol fast blue). In parallel, a finite element model of rat spinal cord was used to examine the resulting maximum principal strain in the spinal cord during impact. Increasing impact depth from 0.9 to 1.5 mm reduced open-field scores (p<0.01) above 80 mm/s, reduced gray (GM) and white matter (WM) sparing (p<0.01), and increased the amount of demyelination (p<0.01). Increasing impact speed showed similar results at the 1.5-mm impact depth, but not the 0.9-mm impact depth. Linear correlation analysis with finite element analysis strain showed correlations (p<0.001) with nerve fiber damage in the ventral (R(2)=0.86) and lateral (R(2)=0.74) regions of the spinal cord and with WM (R(2)=0.90) and GM (R(2)=0.76) sparing. The results demonstrate that impact depth is more important in determining the severity of SCI and that threshold interactions exist between impact depth and speed.

    Research areas

  • Animals, Cervical Vertebrae, Disease Models, Animal, Finite Element Analysis, Male, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Spinal Cord Injuries/etiology

ID: 133871286