Inducing inflammation following subacute spinal cord injury in female rats: A double-edged sword to promote motor recovery
Emma Schmidt, Pamela Raposo, Romana Vavrek, Karim Fouad
The inflammatory response following spinal cord injury is associated with increased tissue damage and impaired functional recovery. However, inflammation can also promote plasticity and the secretion of growth-promoting substances. Previously we have shown that inducing inflammation with a systemic injection of lipopolysaccharide in the chronic (8 weeks) stage of spinal cord injury enhances neuronal sprouting and the efficacy of rehabilitative training in rats. Here, we tested whether administration of lipopolysaccharide in female rats in the subacute (10 days) stage of spinal cord injury would have a similar effect. Since the lesioned environment is already in a pro-inflammatory state at this earlier time after injury, we hypothesized that triggering a second immune response may not be beneficial for recovery. Contrary to our hypothesis, we found that eliciting an inflammatory response 10 days after spinal cord injury enhanced the recovery of the ipsilesional forelimb in rehabilitative training. Compared to rats that received rehabilitative training without treatment, rats that received systemic lipopolysaccharide showed restored motor function without the use of compensatory strategies that translated beyond the trained task. Furthermore, lipopolysaccharide treatment paradoxically promoted the resolution of chronic neuroinflammation around the lesion site. Unfortunately, re-triggering a systemic immune response after spinal cord injury also resulted in a long-term increase in anxiety-like behaviour.