STUDY DESIGN: Blinded, placebo-controlled, parallel treatment group studies of the effects of methylprednisolone (MP) or 4-chloro-3-hydroxyanthranilate (4-Cl-3-HAA) on behavioral outcome and quinolinic acid tissue levels from experimental thoracic spinal cord injury in adult guinea pigs.
OBJECTIVES: To compare the effects of treatment with high-dose MP, a corticosteroid, and 4-Cl-3-HAA, a compound that inhibits synthesis of the neurotoxin quinolinic acid (QUIN) by activated macrophages. To explore the effect of different times of treatment using these two approaches to ameliorating secondary tissue damage.
SETTING: Laboratory animal studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
METHODS: Standardized spinal cord injuries were produced in anesthetized guinea pigs, using lateral compression of the spinal cord. Behavioral impairment and recovery were measured by placing and toe-spread responses (motor function), cutaneus trunci muscle reflex receptive field areas and somatosensory-evoked potentials (sensory function). Tissue quinolinic acid levels were measured by gas chromatograph/mass spectrometry.
RESULTS: The current experiments showed a reduction in delayed loss of motor and sensory function in the guinea pig with MP (150 mg kg(-1), intraperitoneally in split doses between 0.5 and 6 h), but no significant reduction in tissue QUIN. Improved sensory function was seen with a single dose of 60 mg kg(-1) MP intraperitoneally at 5 h after injury, but not at 10 h after injury. A single dose of 4-Cl-3-HAA at 5 h in the guinea pig did not produce the sensory and motor improvements seen in previous studies with 12 days of dosing, beginning at 5 h.
CONCLUSION: These studies, together with earlier findings, indicate that both drugs can attenuate secondary pathologic damage after SCI, but through separate mechanisms. These are most likely an acute reduction by MP of oxidative processes and reduction by 4-Cl-3-HAA of QUIN synthesis.