Limiting ischemic spinal cord injury using a free radical scavenger 21- aminosteroid and/or cerebrospinal fluid drainage

P. C. Francel, B. A. Long, J. M. Malik, C. Tribble, J. A. Jane, I. L. Kron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Traumatic spinal cord injury occurs in two phases: biomechanical injury, followed by ischemia and reperfusion injury. Biomechanical injury to the spinal cord, preceded or followed by various pharmaceutical manipulations or interventions, has been studied, but the ischemia/reperfusion aspect of spinal cord injury isolated from the biomechanical injury has not been previously evaluated. In the current study, ischemia to the lumbar spinal cord was induced in albino rabbits via infrarenal aortic occlusion, and two interventions were analyzed: the use of U74006F (Tirilazad mesylate), a 21- aminosteroid, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage. These treatment modalities were tested alone or in combination. In Phase 1 of this study, the rabbits received 1.0 mg/kg of Tirilazad or an equal volume of vehicle (controls) prior to the actual occlusion, three doses of Tirilazad (1 mg/kg each) during the occlusion, then several doses after the occlusion. Of the Tirilazad-treated animals, 30% became paraplegic while 70% of the control animals became paraplegic. Phase 2 involved the same doses of Tirilazad as in Phase 1 and, in addition, CSF pressure monitoring and drainage were performed. The paraplegia rate was 79% in the control animals, 36% in the group receiving Tirilazad alone, 25% in the group with CSF drainage alone, and 20% in the Tirilazad plus CSF drainage group. This rate also correlated with changes noted in CSF pressure; both Tirilazad administration alone and CSF drainage alone induced a decrease in CSF pressure and the two combined produced a further decrease. There was marked improvement in the perfusion pressure when using Tirilazad alone, CSF drainage alone, and Tirilazad therapy in combination with CSF drainage, with the last group producing the largest increase. This change in CSF pressure and perfusion pressure correlated with improved functional neurological outcome. Pathological examination revealed that Tirilazad therapy reduced the extensive and diffuse neuronal, glial, and endothelial damage to (in its most severe form) a more patchy focal region of damage in the gray matter. Cerebrospinal fluid drainage resulted in pyknosis of some motor neurons, and some eosinophilia. The combination of CSF drainage and Tirilazad administration resulted in the least abnormality, with either normal or near-normal spinal cords. It is concluded that Tirilazad administration decreased CSF pressure during spinal cord ischemia and reperfusion and, like CSF drainage, increased and improved the perfusion pressure to the spinal cord, decreased spinal cord damage, and improved functional outcome. These effects may be related to the role that Tirilazad has on free radical scavenging during ischemia and reperfusion, and it is possible that Tirilazad therapy alone or in combination with CSF drainage is an effective adjunct to other neural protective measures in spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)742-751
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993


  • 21- aminosteroid
  • cerebrospinal fluid drainage
  • free radical scavenger
  • spinal cord injury
  • spinal cord ischemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Limiting ischemic spinal cord injury using a free radical scavenger 21- aminosteroid and/or cerebrospinal fluid drainage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this