Comparisons of motor and sensory abnormalities after lumbar and thoracic contusion spinal cord injury in male rats

W. Duan, Qian Huang, Zhiyong Chen, Srinivasa N. Raja, Fei Yang, Yun Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Rodent models of contusion spinal cord injury (SCI) are widely studied for the mechanisms underlying functional deficits after SCI. Yet, how does lesion level affect SCI-induced motor and sensory dysfunctions remains unclear. Using a computer-controlled impactor (Impact One™, Leica) and the same parameters (diameter, 2.0 mm; Speed: 4.0 m/s; Depth: 1.5 mm; Dwell time: 0.1 s), we produced contusions at mid-thoracic (T10) and rostral-lumbar (L2) spinal cord in male rats, and compared locomotor and sensory dysfunctions within the same experimental setting. The time courses of locomotor deficit were comparable between thoracic (n = 8) and lumbar (n = 7) SCI rats, but the severity was greater after thoracic SCI especially during the first week post-injury, as indicated by the lower Basso, Beattle and Bresnahan open-field locomotion scores. Both groups showed similar heightened avoiding response (hyper-reactivity) to mechanical stimulation applied at the hindpaws from day 21–56 post-injury, as indicated by decreased paw withdrawal thresholds. Compared to lumbar SCI, thoracic SCI induced a greater decrease of paw withdrawal latency in hot-plate test from day 28–56 post-injury. In contrast, lumbar SCI rats showed a greater reduction of avoidance threshold to mechanical stimulation at the girdle region, and larger overgroomed area than thoracic SCI rats at day 14 post-injury. Thus, thoracic SCI may induce greater motor deficits and hindpaw heat hyper-reactivity than did lumbar SCI. In contrast, lumbar SCI may elicit greater at-level mechanical hyper-reactivity and overgrooming behavior than thoracic SCI. Future study needs to examine the specific pathological changes underlying different dysfunctions in two SCI models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134358
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Aug 24 2019


  • Locomotor function
  • Pain
  • Rat
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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