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Erythropoietin Holds Promise in the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury

16.12.2005


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a two-step process. The primary injury is mechanical, resulting from impact, compression or some other insult to the spinal column. The secondary injury is biochemical, as cellular reactions cause tissue destruction. By interrupting this second process, it may be possible to speed healing and minimize permanent effects.



In a paper published in the current issue of Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, researchers from the Anadolu Cinar Hospital and the GATA Haydarpasa Research and Training Hospital, both in Istanbul, Turkey, found that erythropoietin improves neurological recovery, and may be more effective than the current standard treatment.

Methylprednisolone is the accepted therapeutic treatment for SCI, but it is marginally effective in most cases. Erythropoietin stimulates proliferation and growth of erythroid cells and is involved in neurodevelopment and neuroprotection. It has been studied in brain injuries, but not in SCI.


A population of rats was divided into four groups. All four groups had their spinal cord exposed via laminectomy. The first group of 10 had no further treatment and was closed normally. Of the 60 rats remaining, all were surgically injured by impact. These 60 were divided into 3 groups of 20 that received no medication (NM), standard methylprednisolone (MP) therapy, and treatment with human recombinant erythropoietin (EP), respectively.

Using a swimming test to gauge neurological function, the group receiving EP recovered more than the either the NM or the MP group. In addition, while the MP group showed more recovery than the NM group, it was never statistically significant in this study.

The article is “Erythropoietin enhances neurological recovery after experimental spinal cord injury” by Burak O. Boran, Ahmet Colak and Murat Kutlay. It appears in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, Vol. 23, Issue 5/6 published by IOS Press.

Astrid Engelen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.iospress.nl

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