PloS one

Evaluation of Avulsion-Induced Neuropathology in Rat Spinal Cords with 18F-FDG Micro-PET/CT.

PMID 26010770


Brachial plexus root avulsion (BPRA) leads to dramatic motoneuron death and glial reactions in the corresponding spinal segments at the late stage of injury. To protect spinal motoneurons, assessment of the affected spinal segments should be done at an earlier stage of the injury. In this study, we employed 18F-FDG small-animal PET/CT to assess the severity of BPRA-induced cervical spinal cord injuries. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly treated and divided into three groups: Av+NS (brachial plexus root avulsion (Av) treated with normal saline), Av+GM1 (treated with monosialoganglioside), and control. At time points of 3 day (d), 1 week (w), 2 w, 4 w and 8 w post-injury, 18F-FDG micro-PET/CT scans and neuropathology assessments of the injured spinal roots, as well as the spinal cord, were performed. The outcomes of the different treatments were compared. The results showed that BPRA induced local bleeding and typical Wallerian degeneration of the avulsed roots accompanied by 18F-FDG accumulations at the ipsilateral cervical intervertebral foramen. BPRA-induced astrocyte reactions and overexpression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase in the motoneurons correlated with higher 18F-FDG uptake in the ipsilateral cervical spinal cord during the first 2 w post-injury. The GM1 treatment reduced BPRA-induced astrocyte reactions and inhibited the de novo nNOS expressions in spinal motoneurons. The GM1 treatment also protected spinal motoneurons from avulsion within the first 4 w post-injury. The data from this study suggest that 18F-FDG PET/CT could be used to assess the severity of BPRA-induced primary and secondary injuries in the spinal cord. Furthermore, GM1 is an effective drug for reducing primary and secondary spinal cord injuries following BPRA.