Reducing postischemic paraplegia using conjugated superoxide dismutase

Jon M. Agee, Terry Flanagan, Lorne H. Blackbourne, Irving L. Kron, Curtis G. Tribble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Paraplegia after thoracic aortic aneurysm repair has an incidence of 2.2% to 24%. Oxygen-derived free radicals after reperfusion of an ischemic spinal cord may be partly responsible for neuronal destruction. We studied the effects of polyethylene glycol-conjugated superoxide dismutase (PEG-SOD), a free radical scavenger, as a way of increasing spinal cord tolerance to ischemia. Thirty rabbits underwent 40 minutes of aortic occlusion (a known model of paraplegia). Ten of these animals received 25,000 U/kg of PEG-SOD 24 hours before aortic occlusion and two additional doses of 10,000 U/kg, one before and one subsequent to spinal ischemia. Ten animals received superoxide dismutase in the same dosages as those receiving PEG-SOD. Ten control animals received placebo. All animals were studied for 96 hours, at which time a final neurological examination was performed and the results were recorded. Of the 10 animals treated with PEG-SOD, 2 were completely paralyzed whereas 8 had less (7) or no (1) neurological impairment. Eight of the 10 control animals and 9 of the 10 animals receiving superoxide dismutase were completely paralyzed. None of the control animals or animals receiving superoxide dismutase had a normal neurological examination (p <- 0.05). Treatment with PEG-SOD before and during occlusion increased the rabbit spinal cord tolerance to a 40-minute ischemic insult. Scavenging free radicals may lessen experimental spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-915
Number of pages5
JournalThe Annals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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