The effect of renin-angiotensin system blockers on spinal cord dysfunction and imaging features of spinal cord compression in patients with symptomatic cervical spondylosis

Alexander Perdomo-Pantoja, Alejandro Chara, Samuel Kalb, Joshua Casaos, A. Karim Ahmed, Zachary Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, Sohan Shah, Bowen Jiang, Amir Manbachi, Corinna Zygourakis, Timothy F. Witham, Nicholas Theodore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Cervical spondylosis may lead to spinal cord compression, poor vascular perfusion, and ultimately, cervical myelopathy. Studies suggest a neuroprotective effect of renin-angiotensin system (RAS) inhibitors in the brain, but limited data exist regarding their impact on the spinal cord. PURPOSE: To investigate whether RAS blockers and other antihypertensive drugs are correlated with preoperative functional status and imaging markers of cord compression in patients with symptomatic cervical spondylosis. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective observational study. PATIENT SAMPLE: Individuals with symptomatic degenerative cervical stenosis who underwent surgery. OUTCOME MEASURES: Imaging features of spinal cord compression and functional status (modified Japanese Orthopedic Association [mJOA] and Nurick grading scales). METHODS: Two hundred sixty-six operative patients with symptomatic degenerative cervical stenosis were included. Demographic data, comorbidities, antihypertensive medications, and functional status (including mJOA and Nurick grading scales) were collected. We evaluated canal compromise, cord compromise, surface area of T2 signal cord change, and pixel intensity of signal cord change compared with normal cord on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging sequences. RESULTS: Of 266 patients, 41.7% were women, 58.3% were men; median age was 57.2 years; 20.6% smoked tobacco; 24.7% had diabetes mellitus. One hundred forty-nine patients (55.8%) had hypertension, 142 (95.3%) of these were taking antihypertensive medications (37 angiotensin-II receptor blockers [ARBs], 44 angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and 61 other medications). Patients treated with ARBs displayed a higher signal intensity ratio (ie, less signal intensity change in the compressed cord area) compared with untreated patients without hypertension (p=.004). Patients with hypertension had worse preoperative mJOA and Nurick scores than those without (p<.001). In the multivariate analysis, ARBs remained an independent beneficial factor for lower signal intensity change (p=.04), whereas hypertension remained a risk factor for worse preoperative neurological status (p<.01). CONCLUSIONS: In our study, patients with hypertension who were treated with RAS inhibitors had decreased T2-weighted signal intensity change than untreated patients without hypertension. Patients with hypertension also had worse preoperative functional status. Prospective case-control studies may deepen understanding of RAS modulators in the imaging and functional status of chronic spinal cord compression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-529
Number of pages11
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Angiotensin-II type-1 receptor blockers
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Cervical spondylotic myelopathy
  • Hypertension
  • Nurick grading system
  • Renin-angiotensin system
  • Spinal cord injury
  • T2 signal intensity
  • mJOA scoring system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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