Effects of curcumin on acute spinal cord ischemia-reperfusion injury in rabbits. Laboratory investigation

Gokhan Kurt, Zuhal Yildirim, Berker Cemil, Emrah Celtikci, Gulnur Take Kaplanoglu
Journal of Neurosurgery. Spine 2014, 20 (4): 464-70

OBJECT: The object of this study was to conduct a prospective, randomized, laboratory investigation of the neuroprotective effects of curcumin functionally, biochemically, and histologically in an experimental acute spinal cord ischemia-reperfusion injury on rabbits.

METHODS: Eighteen rabbits were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: the sham group, the ischemia-reperfusion group, or the curcumin group. Spinal cord ischemia was induced by applying an infrarenal aortic cross-clamp for 30 minutes. At 48 hours after ischemia, neurological function was evaluated with modified Tarlov criteria. Biochemical changes in the spinal cord and plasma were observed by measuring levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP), glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), nitrite/nitrate, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Histological changes were examined with H & E staining. Immunohistochemical staining with antibodies against caspase-3 was performed to evaluate cell apoptosis after ischemia.

RESULTS: In the curcumin group, neurological outcome scores were statistically significantly better compared with the ischemia-reperfusion group. In the ischemia-reperfusion group, MDA, AOPP, and nitrite/nitrate levels were significantly elevated in the spinal cord tissue and the plasma by the induction of ischemia-reperfusion. The curcumin treatment significantly prevented the ischemia-reperfusion-induced elevation of nitrite/nitrate and TNF-α. In addition, the spinal cord tissue and the plasma SOD, GSH, and CAT levels were found to be preserved in the curcumin group and not statistically different from those of the sham group. Histological evaluation of the tissues also demonstrated a decrease in axonal damage, neuronal degeneration, and glial cell infiltration after curcumin administration.

CONCLUSIONS: Although further studies including different dose regimens and time intervals are required, curcumin could attenuate a spinal cord ischemia-reperfusion injury in rabbits via reducing oxidative products and proinflammatory cytokines, as well as increasing activities of antioxidant enzymes and preventing apoptotic cell death.

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