Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Raymond Grill, PhD

Committee Member

Thomas Goka, PhD

Committee Member

Edgar T. Walters, PhD

Committee Member

Michael Zhu, PhD

Committee Member

Hongzhen Hu, PhD


Patients living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) often develop chronic neuropathic pain (CNP). Unfortunately, the clinically approved, current standard of treatment, gabapentin, only provides temporary pain relief. This treatment can cause numerous adverse side effects that negatively affect the daily lives of SCI patients. There is a great need for alternative, effective treatments for SCI-dependent CNP.

Minocycline, an FDA-approved antibiotic, has been widely prescribed for the treatment of acne for several decades. However, recent studies demonstrate that minocycline has neuroprotective properties in several pre-clinical rodent models of CNS trauma and disease. Pre-clinical studies also show that short-term minocycline treatment can prevent the onset of CNP when delivered during the acute stage of SCI and can also transiently attenuate established CNP when delivered briefly during the chronic stage of SCI. However, the potential to abolish or attenuate CNP via long-term administration of minocycline after SCI is unknown.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential efficacy and safety of long-term administration of minocycline to abolish or attenuate CNP following SCI. A severe spinal contusion injury was administered on adult, male, Sprague-Dawley rats. At day 29 post-injury, I initiated a three-week treatment regimen of daily administration with minocycline (50 mg/kg), gabapentin (50 mg/kg) or saline.

The minocycline treatment group demonstrated a significant reduction in below-level mechanical allodynia and above- level hyperalgesia while on their treatment regimen. After a ten-day washout period of minocycline, the animals continued to demonstrate a significant reduction in below-level mechanical allodynia and above-level hyperalgesia. However, minocycline-treated animals exhibited abnormal weight gain and hepatotoxicity compared to gapabentin-treated or vehicle-treated subjects.The results support previous findings that minocycline can attenuate CNP after SCI and suggested that minocycline can also attenuate CNP via long-term delivery of minocycline after SCI (36). The data also suggested that minocycline had a lasting effect at reducing pain symptoms. However, the adverse side effects of long-term use of minocycline should not be ignored in the rodent model.

Gabapentin treatment caused a significant decrease in below-level mechanical allodynia and below-level hyperalgesia during the treatment regimen. Because gabapentin treatment has an analgesic effect at the concentration I administered, the results were expected. However, I also found that gabapentin-treated animals demonstrated a sustained reduction in pain ten days after treatment withdrawal. This result was unexpected because gabapentin has a short half-life of 1.7 hours in rodents and previous studies have demonstrated that pre-drug pain levels return shortly after withdrawal of treatment. Additionally, the gabapentin-treated animals demonstrated a significant and sustained increase in rearing events compared with all other treatment groups which suggested that gabapentin treatment was not only capable of reducing pain long-term but may also significantly improve trunk stability or improve motor function recovery.


chronic neuropathic pain, minocycline, spinal cord injury