Post-trauma Lipitor treatment prevents endothelial dysfunction, facilitates neuroprotection, and promotes locomotor recovery following spinal cord injury

Ravinder Pannu, Douglas K Christie, Ernest Barbosa, Inderjit Singh, Avtar K Singh
Journal of Neurochemistry 2007, 101 (1): 182-200
We have previously reported neuroprotection in spinal cord injury (SCI) by Lipitor [atorvastatin (AT)]-pre-treatment. Though informative, pre-treatment studies find only limited clinical application as trauma occurrence is unpredictable. Therefore, this study investigates the efficacy of AT treatment post-SCI. In a rat model of contusion-SCI resulting in complete hindlimb paralysis, AT treatment (5 mg/kg; gavage) was begun 2, 4, or 6 h post-SCI followed by a once daily dose thereafter for 6 weeks. While the placebo vehicle (VHC)-SCI rats showed substantial functional deficit, AT-SCI animals exhibited significant functional recovery. AT diminished injury-induced blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) dysfunction with significantly reduced infiltration and tumor necrosis factor-alpha/interleukin-1beta/inducible nitric oxide synthase expression at site of injury. BSCB protection in AT-SCI was attributable to attenuated matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9) expression - a central player in BSCB disruption. Furthermore, endothelial MMP9 expression was found to be RhoA/ROCK pathway-mediated and regulated by AT through an isoprenoid-dependent mechanism. Attenuation of these early inflammatory events reduced secondary damage. Significant reduction in axonal degeneration, myelin degradation, gliosis, and neuronal apoptosis with resultant enhancement in tissue sparing was observed in AT-SCI compared with VHC-SCI. In summary, this novel report presenting the efficacy of post-injury AT treatment might be of critical therapeutic value as effective treatments are currently unavailable for SCI.

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