The possibility that nitric oxide is somehow involved in the early bioelectrical disturbances following spinal cord injury in relation to the later pathophysiology of the spinal cord was examined in a rat model of spinal cord trauma. A focal trauma to the rat spinal cord was produced by an incision of the right dorsal horn of the T 10-11 segments under urethane anaesthesia. The spinal cord evoked potentials (SCEP) were recorded using epidural electrodes placed over the T9 and T12 segments of the cord following supramaximal stimulation of the right tibial and sural nerves in the hind leg. Trauma to the spinal cord significantly attenuated the SCEP amplitude (about 60%) immediately after injury which persisted up to 1 h. However, a significant increase in SCEP latency was seen at the end of 5 h after trauma. These spinal cord segments exhibited profound upregulation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS) immunoreactivity, and the development of edema and cell injury. Pretreatment with a serotonin synthesis inhibitor drug p-chlorophenylalanine (p-CPA) or an anxiolytic drug diazepam significantly attenuated the decrease in SCEP amplitude, upregulation of NOS, edema and cell injury. On the other hand, no significant reduction in SCEP amplitude, NOS immunolabelling, edema or cell changes were seen after injury in rats pretreated with L-NAME. These observations suggest that nitric oxide is somehow involved in the early disturbances of SCEP and contribute to the later pathophysiology of spinal cord injury.
- Cell changes
- Nitric oxide
- Spinal cord evoked potentials