Effect of ischemic post-conditioning on spinal cord ischemic-reperfusion injury in rabbits

Han Huang, Lan Zhang, Yan Wang, Junyan Yao, Hao Weng, Hai Wu, Zhiyu Chen, Jin Liu
Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia 2007, 54 (1): 42-8

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the potential protective effect of ischemic post-conditioning (Post-con) on ischemia-reperfusion injury of the rabbit spinal cord, and to determine if there is an additive neuroprotective effect when ischemic preconditioning (IPC) and Post-con are combined.

METHODS: Forty New Zealand white rabbits were randomly divided into four groups: group Control (C; n=10), aortic occlusion (AOC; for 30 min; group IPC (n=10) three cycles of three-minute AOC plus three-minute reperfusion before the 30-min AOC; group Post-con (n=10), three cycles of three-minute reperfusion plus three-minute AOC immediately upon reperfusion after 30-min AOC; group IPC+Post-con (n=10), where animals were subjected to both IPC and Post-con. At six hours, 24 hr and 48 hr following reperfusion, neurological function was assessed according to Tarlov scores, and at 48 hr, the spinal cords were procured for the histopathologic evaluation, by comparing the number of intact alpha-motor neurons in the anterior horn.

RESULTS: The median count (and quartiles) of intact alpha-motor neurons was greatest in group Post-con 73 (69-76) and group IPC+Post-con 29 (22-42) compared to the numbers of viable alpha-motor neurons in groups C 6 (4-9) and IPC 15 (11-18) (P < 0.001). The numbers of animals who developed paraplegia according to Tarlov criteria were 7/10 in groups Post-con and IPC+Post-con, compared to 9/10 animals in each of groups C and IPC.

CONCLUSIONS: This laboratory investigation provides histological evidence that Post-con may protect the spinal cord from moderate to severe ischemia reperfusion injury. Ischemic preconditioning conferred no additional benefits in this rabbit model. The results have potential clinical implications for patients undergoing thoracoabdominal aortic reconstructive surgery.

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