Spinal Cord, Mar 2014

Oral erlotinib, but not rapamycin, causes modest acceleration of bladder and hindlimb recovery from spinal cord injury in rats

Kjell J, Pernold K, Olson L, Abrams MB



Erlotinib and Rapamycin are both in clinical use and experimental inhibition of their respective molecular targets, EGFR and mTORC1, has improved recovery from spinal cord injury. Our aim was to determine if daily Erlotinib or Rapamycin treatment started directly after spinal contusion injury in rats improves locomotion function or recovery of bladder function.


Stockholm, Sweden.


Rats were subjected to contusion injuries and treated during the acute phase with either Erlotinib or Rapamycin. Recovery of bladder function was monitored by measuring residual urine volume and hindlimb locomotion assessed by open-field observations using the BBB rating scale as well as by automated registration of gait parameters. Body weights were monitored. To determine whether Erlotinib and Rapamycin inhibit the same signaling pathway, a cell culture system and western blots were used.


Erlotinib accelerated locomotor recovery and slightly improved bladder recovery; however, we found no long-term improvements of locomotor function. Rapamycin did neither improved locomotor function nor bladder recovery. In vitro studies confirmed that Erlotinib and Rapamycin both inhibit the EGFR-mTORC1 signaling pathway.


We conclude that none of these two drug regimes improved long-term functional outcome in our current model of spinal cord injury. Nevertheless, oral treatment with Erlotinib may offer modest temporary advantages, whereas treatment with Rapamycin does not.

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