Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes significant mortality and morbidity. Currently, no FDA-approved pharmacotherapy is available for treating SCI. Previously, low doses of estrogen (17β-estradiol, E2) were shown to improve the post-injury outcome in a rat SCI model. However, the range of associated side effects makes advocating its therapeutic use difficult. Therefore, this study aimed at investigating the therapeutic efficacy of Premarin (PRM) in SCI. PRM is an FDA-approved E2 (10%) formulation, which is used for hormone replacement therapy with minimal risk of serious side effects. The effects of PRM on SCI were examined by magnetic resonance imaging, immunofluorescent staining, and western blot analysis in a rat model. SCI animals treated with vehicle alone, PRM, E2 receptor antagonist (ICI), or PRM + ICI were graded in a blinded way for locomotor function by using the Basso–Beattie–Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor scale. PRM treatment for 7 days decreased post-SCI lesion volume and attenuated neuronal cell death, inflammation, and axonal damage. PRM also altered the balance of pro-and anti-apoptotic proteins in favor of cell survival and improved angiogenesis and microvascular growth. Increased expression of estrogen receptors (ERs) ERα and ERβ following PRM treatment and their inhibition by ER inhibitor indicated that the neuroprotection associated with PRM treatment might be E2-receptor mediated. The attenuation of glial activation with decreased inflammation and cell death, and increased angiogenesis by PRM led to improved functional outcome as determined by the BBB locomotor scale. These results suggest that PRM treatment has significant therapeutic implications for the improvement of post-SCI outcome.
- Spinal cord injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry