Angela Filous, The Ohio State University, Columbus, United States

Mechanisms of infection-associated neurological worsening

Funded in: 2019, 2020

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Problem: Spinal cord injury patients become severely immune compromised

Target: Understand what effects bacteria and immune response have on injured nervous system

Goal: Develop therapies to prevent infection and protect the nervous system


Following spinal cord injury (SCI), patients become severely immune compromised. This leaves them vulnerable to infections, which can be dangerous. As a matter of fact, pneumonia is the leading cause of death after acute spinal cord injury. Even patients that survive an infection have worse recovery compared to SCI patients that never suffered an infection.

Because of their prevalence and impact, it is important to understand how infections impact the nervous system in order to preserve as much recovery potential as possible for injured patients.
To test this, the research group developed a novel model on pneumonia in SCI mice, allowing to test how infections affect their recovery. Using this model to replicate the human condition, they hope to understand what effects the bacteria and immune response have on the injured nervous system and the rest of the body after injury. By understanding where the infections are affecting the body after SCI, they can work to develop therapies to prevent infection and/or protect the nervous system from further insult after infections, thereby improving recovery potential for these patients.