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The role of stress in recovery of function after spinal cord injury

Research has shown that exposure to just 6 minutes of uncontrollable shock 24
hours following contusion injury impairs locomotor recovery and leads to greater tissue
loss at the injury epicenter. Uncontrollable shock is known to elevate corticosterone
levels in intact rats and corticosterone exacerbates cell death in the hippocampus
following injury, suggesting the effects may be related to a stress-induced release of
corticosterone. Uncontrollable shock also affects other indices of stress including,
spleen weight and norepinephrine, and has been shown to elevate pro-inflammatory
cytokines. The present experiments were designed to assess whether uncontrollable
shock has similar effects after contusion injury.
Experiment 1 examined whether injury itself produced a stress response.
Subjects received anesthesia alone, a laminectomy, or a contusion injury. Twenty-four
hours later, they were restrained for 6 minutes and blood was collected from the leg.
They were sacrificed 24 hours later and spleens were weighed, and plasma
corticosterone and norepinephrine were assessed using ELISAs. IL-1! and IL-6 levels
at the injury site were also measured using an ELISA. Contusion injury had no impact
on any of the biological outcomes. For Experiment 2, subjects received 6 minutes of
uncontrollable tailshock or an equivalent amount of restraint. Subjects were sacrificed 6, 24, 72, or 168 hours later. Uncontrollable shock caused a decrease in spleen weight and
increased plasma corticosterone within 24 hours. Increases in IL-1! and IL-6 were also
seen. Morphine was used in Experiment 3 to block the “psychological” component of
uncontrollable shock. Subjects received morphine (20 mg/kg; i.p.) or saline 30 minutes
prior to uncontrollable shock and were sacrificed 24 hours later. Morphine did not
prevent the consequences of uncontrollable shock and, in some cases, potentiated its
effects. The effect of controllability was examined in Experiment 4. After receiving a
contusion injury, subjects received either controllable (master) or uncontrollable (yoked)
legshock over the course of 2 days. A third group served as unshocked controls. Master
subjects did not differ from yoked subjects on any of the biological outcomes measured.
Unshocked subjects, however, exhibited an increase in corticosterone, IL-6, and blood
Date15 May 2009
CreatorsWashburn, Stephanie Nicole
ContributorsGrau, James W.
Source SetsTexas A and M University
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeBook, Thesis, Electronic Dissertation, text
Formatelectronic, application/pdf, born digital

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