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Ohio State researchers restore immune function in spinal injured mice
Date:8/6/2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio In a new study, researchers at The Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center show that is possible to restore immune function in spinal injured mice.

People with spinal cord injury often are immune compromised, which makes them more susceptible to infections. Why these people become immune-suppressed is not known, but the Ohio State study found that a disorder called autonomic dysreflexia can cause immune suppression.

Autonomic dysreflexia is a potentially dangerous complication of high-level spinal cord injury characterized by exaggerated activation of spinal autonomic (sympathetic) reflexes. This can cause an abrupt onset of excessively high blood pressure that can cause pulmonary embolism, stroke and in severe cases, death.

"Our research offers an explanation for why people with spinal cord injuries develop a condition referred to as 'central immune depression syndrome.' Their immune systems, which are required to fight off infection, are suppressed due to damage or malfunction in regions of the spinal cord that help control immune function," said principal investigator Phillip G. Popovich, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience in Ohio State's College of Medicine and Director of Ohio State's Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Researchers found that autonomic dysreflexia develops spontaneously in spinal cord injured mice, and becomes more frequent as time passes from the initial spinal cord injury.

They also found that simple, everyday occurrences that activate normal spinal autonomic reflexes, such as having bowel movements or emptying the bladder, become hyperactive and suppress immune function in people with spinal cord injury.

In the study, Popovich and colleagues were able to restore immune function in mice with spinal cord injuries using drugs that inhibit norep
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Contact: Eileen Scahill
Eileen.Scahill@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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