Date of Graduation

8-2010

Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Ponnada Narayana, PhD

Committee Member

Hesham Amin, MD

Committee Member

Raymond Grill, PhD

Committee Member

Claire Hulsebosch, PhD

Committee Member

Jerry Wolinsky, MD

Abstract

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition that affects people in the prime of their lives. A myriad of vascular events occur after SCI, each of which contributes to the evolving pathology. The primary trauma causes mechanical damage to blood vessels, resulting in hemorrhage. The blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB), a neurovascular unit that limits passage of most agents from systemic circulation to the central nervous system, breaks down, resulting in inflammation, scar formation, and other sequelae. Protracted BSCB disruption may exacerbate cellular injury and hinder neurobehavioral recovery in SCI.

In these studies, angiopoietin-1 (Ang1), an agent known to reduce vascular permeability, was hypothesized to attenuate the severity of secondary injuries of SCI. Using longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies (dynamic contrast-enhanced [DCE]-MRI for quantification of BSCB permeability, highresolution anatomical MRI for calculation of lesion size, and diffusion tensor imaging for assessment of axonal integrity), the acute, subacute, and chronic effects of Ang1 administration after SCI were evaluated. Neurobehavioral assessments were also performed. These non-invasive techniques have applicability to the monitoring of therapies in patients with SCI.

In the acute phase of injury, Ang1 was found to reduce BSCB permeability and improve neuromotor recovery. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI revealed a persistent compromise of the BSCB up to two months post-injury. In the subacute phase of injury, Ang1’s effect on reducing BSCB permeability was maintained and it was found to transiently reduce axonal integrity. The SCI lesion burden was assessed with an objective method that compared favorably with segmentations from human raters. In the chronic phase of injury, Ang1 resulted in maintained reduction in BSCB permeability, a decrease in lesion size, and improved axonal integrity.

Finally, longitudinal correlations among data from the MRI modalities and neurobehavioral assays were evaluated. Locomotor recovery was negatively correlated with lesion size in the Ang1 cohort and positively correlated with diffusion measures in the vehicle cohort. In summary, the results demonstrate a possible role for Ang1 in mitigating the secondary pathologies of SCI during the acute and chronic phases of injury.

Keywords

neurotrauma, spinal cord injury, magnetic resonance imaging, DCE-MRI, neurobehavioral, angiopoietin-1, rodent model, DTI