Early electrical field stimulation prevents the loss of spinal cord anterior horn motoneurons and muscle atrophy following spinal cord injury
Zhang, C.; Rong, W.; Zhang, G-Hao.; Wang, A-Hua.; Wu, C-Zhe.; Huo, X-Lin.
Neural Regeneration Research 13(5): 869-876
Our previous study revealed that early application of electrical field stimulation (EFS) with the anode at the lesion and the cathode distal to the lesion reduced injury potential, inhibited secondary injury and was neuroprotective in the dorsal corticospinal tract after spinal cord injury (SCI). The objective of this study was to further evaluate the effect of EFS on protection of anterior horn motoneurons and their target musculature after SCI and its mechanism. Rats were randomized into three equal groups. The EFS group received EFS for 30 minutes immediately after injury at T10. SCI group rats were only subjected to SCI and sham group rats were only subjected to laminectomy. Luxol fast blue staining demonstrated that spinal cord tissue in the injury center was better protected; cross-sectional area and perimeter of injured tissue were significantly smaller in the EFS group than in the SCI group. Immunofluorescence and transmission electron microscopy showed that the number of spinal cord anterior horn motoneurons was greater and the number of abnormal neurons reduced in the EFS group compared with the SCI group. Wet weight and cross-sectional area of vastus lateralis muscles were smaller in the SCI group to in the sham group. However, EFS improved muscle atrophy and behavioral examination showed that EFS significantly increased the angle in the inclined plane test and Tarlov's motor grading score. The above results confirm that early EFS can effectively impede spinal cord anterior horn motoneuron loss, promote motor function recovery and reduce muscle atrophy in rats after SCI.