Spinal Cord, Dec 2015

Improved recovery from spinal cord injury in rats with chronic parvovirus serotype-1a infection

Kjell J, Olson L, Abrams MB



A vendor informed us that rats shipped to us and used by us in a spinal cord contusion injury experiment were infected by rat parvovirus type 1a (RPV-1a). Our aim was therefore to determine whether this infection may have altered locomotor recovery or tissue pathology.


Stockholm, Sweden.


We induced a moderate contusion injury of the spinal cord in rats received from an (unknown to us) RPV-1a-contaminated facility. We compared the hind limb locomotor function between RPV-1a-infected rats and non-infected controls with the same spinal cord lesions, obtained before (historical control), as well as after infection (future controls). Histologically, we assessed spinal tissue sparing, astrocyte reactivity and the amount of macrophages/activated microglia.


RPV-1a-infected rats had significantly better hind limb locomotor recovery compared with both 'historical' and 'future' controls. We also observed significantly better tissue sparing and axonal sparing around the injury site, as well as significant reductions in macrophages/activated microglia and astrocyte reactivity in the spinal cords of RPV-1a-infected rats.


The results stress the importance of knowing the health status of animals used to study central nervous system trauma and support the notion that acquired infections, even if asymptomatic, may alter response to injury in mammals. Furthermore, the results demonstrate that virus infections may have positive effects on functional recovery after spinal cord injury and indicate that RPV-1a infection may be neuroprotective by dampening secondary damage.Spinal Cord advance online publication, 22 December 2015; doi:10.1038/sc.2015.208.


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