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Relating Histopathology and Mechanical Strain in Experimental Contusion Spinal Cord Injury in a Rat Model

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ABSTRACT

During traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), the spinal cord is subject to external displacements that result in damage of neural tissues. These displacements produce complex internal deformations, or strains, of the spinal cord parenchyma. The aim of this study is to determine a relationship between these internal strains during SCI and primary damage to spinal cord gray matter (GM) in an in vivo rat contusion model. Using magnetic resonance imaging and novel image registration methods, we measured three-dimensional (3D) mechanical strain in in vivo rat cervical spinal cord (n = 12) during an imposed contusion injury. We then assessed expression of the neuronal transcription factor, neuronal nuclei (NeuN), in ventral horns of GM (at the epicenter of injury as well as at intervals cranially and caudally), immediately post-injury. We found that minimum principal strain was most strongly correlated with loss of NeuN stain across all animals (R2 = 0.19), but varied in strength between individual animals (R2 = 0.06–0.52). Craniocaudal distribution of anatomical damage was similar to measured strain distribution. A Monte Carlo simulation was used to assess strain field error, and minimum principal strain (which ranged from 8% to 36% in GM ventral horns) exhibited a standard deviation of 2.6% attributed to the simulated error. This study is the first to measure 3D deformation of the spinal cord and relate it to patterns of ensuing tissue damage in an in vivo model. It provides a platform on which to build future studies addressing the tolerance of spinal cord tissue to mechanical deformation.

No MeSH data available.


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Labeling ventral horns of gray matter. Left (A) and right (B) ventral horns were identified on the pre-injury transverse images of the spinal cord.
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f1: Labeling ventral horns of gray matter. Left (A) and right (B) ventral horns were identified on the pre-injury transverse images of the spinal cord.

Mentions: Post-processing of MR images was described previously.22 Briefly, in the pre-injury and injury image sets, the spinal cord was segmented from surrounding tissues. From the segmented images, the left and right ventral horns of GM were manually traced using ImageJ software (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD). Ventral horns were identified as the region defined by the periphery of the ventral GM, ventrally and laterally, the inflection point between the dorsal and ventral GM, dorsally, and excluding the narrow “bridge” of GM (Rexed lamina X) across the central canal, medially (Fig. 1). The corresponding rectilinear coordinates of the voxels within the ROIs were recorded (x, y, and z represented lateral, dorsoventral, and craniocaudal directions, respectively).


Relating Histopathology and Mechanical Strain in Experimental Contusion Spinal Cord Injury in a Rat Model
Labeling ventral horns of gray matter. Left (A) and right (B) ventral horns were identified on the pre-injury transverse images of the spinal cord.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5035832&req=5

f1: Labeling ventral horns of gray matter. Left (A) and right (B) ventral horns were identified on the pre-injury transverse images of the spinal cord.
Mentions: Post-processing of MR images was described previously.22 Briefly, in the pre-injury and injury image sets, the spinal cord was segmented from surrounding tissues. From the segmented images, the left and right ventral horns of GM were manually traced using ImageJ software (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD). Ventral horns were identified as the region defined by the periphery of the ventral GM, ventrally and laterally, the inflection point between the dorsal and ventral GM, dorsally, and excluding the narrow “bridge” of GM (Rexed lamina X) across the central canal, medially (Fig. 1). The corresponding rectilinear coordinates of the voxels within the ROIs were recorded (x, y, and z represented lateral, dorsoventral, and craniocaudal directions, respectively).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

During traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), the spinal cord is subject to external displacements that result in damage of neural tissues. These displacements produce complex internal deformations, or strains, of the spinal cord parenchyma. The aim of this study is to determine a relationship between these internal strains during SCI and primary damage to spinal cord gray matter (GM) in an in vivo rat contusion model. Using magnetic resonance imaging and novel image registration methods, we measured three-dimensional (3D) mechanical strain in in vivo rat cervical spinal cord (n = 12) during an imposed contusion injury. We then assessed expression of the neuronal transcription factor, neuronal nuclei (NeuN), in ventral horns of GM (at the epicenter of injury as well as at intervals cranially and caudally), immediately post-injury. We found that minimum principal strain was most strongly correlated with loss of NeuN stain across all animals (R2 = 0.19), but varied in strength between individual animals (R2 = 0.06–0.52). Craniocaudal distribution of anatomical damage was similar to measured strain distribution. A Monte Carlo simulation was used to assess strain field error, and minimum principal strain (which ranged from 8% to 36% in GM ventral horns) exhibited a standard deviation of 2.6% attributed to the simulated error. This study is the first to measure 3D deformation of the spinal cord and relate it to patterns of ensuing tissue damage in an in vivo model. It provides a platform on which to build future studies addressing the tolerance of spinal cord tissue to mechanical deformation.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus