Simvastatin treatment improves functional recovery after experimental spinal cord injury by upregulating the expression of BDNF and GDNF

Xiaoguang Han, Ning Yang, Yingsheng Xu, Jinglin Zhu, Zhongqiang Chen, Zhongjun Liu, Gengting Dang, Chunli Song
Neuroscience Letters 2011 January 10, 487 (3): 255-9
The aim of this study was to determine the therapeutic efficacy of simvastatin treatment starting 1 day after spinal cord injury (SCI) in rat and to investigate the underlying mechanism. Spinal cord injury was induced in adult female Sprague-Dawley rats after laminectomy at T9-T10. Then additionally with sham group (laminectomy only) the SCI animals were randomly divided into 3 groups: vehicle-treated group; 5-mg/kg simvastatin-treated group; and 10-mg/kg simvastatin-treated group. Simvastatin or vehicle was administered orally at 1 day after SCI and then daily for 5 weeks. Locomotor functional recovery was assessed during 8 weeks postoperation by performing open-field locomotor test and inclined-plane test. At the end of study, motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) were assessed to evaluate the integrity of spinal cord pathways. Then, the animals were killed, and 1-cm segments of spinal cord encompassing the injury site were removed for histopathological analysis. Immunohistochemistry was performed to observe the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in the spinal cord. Results show that the simvastatin-treated animals showed significantly better locomotor function recovery, better electrophysiological outcome, less myelin loss, and higher expression of BDNF and GDNF. These findings suggest that simvastatin treatment starting 1 day after SCI can significantly improve locomotor recovery, and this neuroprotective effect may be related to the upregulation of BDNF and GDNF. Therefore, simvastatin may be useful as a promising therapeutic agent for SCI.

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