Progesterone is neuroprotective after acute experimental spinal cord trauma in rats.
STUDY DESIGN: A standardized rat contusion model was used to test the hypothesis that progesterone significantly improves neurologic recovery after a spinal cord injury that results in incomplete paraplegia. OBJECTIVES: To compare the effect of progesterone versus a variety of control agents to determine its effectiveness in promoting neurologic recovery after an incomplete rat spinal cord injury. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Progesterone is a neurosteroid, possessing a variety of functions in the central nervous system. Exogenous progesterone has been shown to improve neurologic function after focal cerebral ischemia and facilitates cognitive recovery after cortical contusion in rats. METHODS: A standardized rat contusion model of spinal cord injury using the New York University impactor that resulted in rats with incomplete paraplegia was used. Forty mature male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to four groups: laminectomy with sham contusion, laminectomy with contusion without pharmacologic treatment, laminectomy with contusion treated with dimethylsulfoxide and dissolved progesterone, and laminectomy with contusion treated with dimethylsulfoxide. Functional status was assessed weekly using the Basso-Beattie-Bresnehan (BBB) locomotor rating scale for 6 weeks, after which the animals were killed for histologic studies. RESULTS: Rats treated with progesterone had better outcomes (P = 0.0017; P = 0.0172) with a BBB score of 15.5, compared with 10.0 in the dimethylsulfoxide control group and 12.0 in the spinal cord contusion without pharmacologic intervention group. This was corroborated in histologic analysis by relative sparing of white matter tissue at the epicenter of the injury in the progesterone-treated group (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Rats treated with progesterone had a better clinical and histologic outcome compared with the various control groups. These results indicate potential therapeutic properties of progesterone in the management of acute spinal cord injury.
Thomas, AJ; Nockels, RP; Pan, HQ; Shaffrey, CI; Chopp, M
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