Neuroprotective effects of sildenafil in experimental spinal cord injury in rabbits
Neuroprotective agents such as methylprednisolone and sildenafil may limit damage after spinal cord injury. We evaluated the effects of methylprednisolone and sildenafil on biochemical and histologic changes after spinal cord injury in a rabbit model. Female New Zealand rabbits (32 rabbits) were allocated to 4 equal groups: laminectomy only (sham control) or laminectomy and spinal trauma with no other treatment (trauma control) or treatment with either methylprednisolone or sildenafil. Gelsolin and caspase-3 levels in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma were determined, and spinal cord histology was evaluated at 24 hours after trauma. There were no differences in mean cerebrospinal fluid or plasma levels of caspase-3 between the groups or within the groups from 0 to 24 hours after injury. From 0 to 24 hours after trauma, mean cerebrospinal fluid gelsolin levels significantly increased in the sildenafil group and decreased in the sham control and the trauma control groups. Mean plasma gelsolin level was significantly higher at 8 and 24 hours after trauma in the sildenafil than other groups. Histologic examination indicated that general structural integrity was better in the methylprednisolone in comparison with the trauma control group. General structural integrity, leptomeninges, white and grey matter hematomas, and necrosis were significantly improved in the sildenafil compared with the trauma control group. Caspase-3 levels in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood were not increased but gelsolin levels were decreased after spinal cord injury in trauma control rabbits. Sildenafil caused an increase in gelsolin levels and may be more effective than methylprednisolone at decreasing secondary damage to the spinal cord.
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