A computer-controlled electromagnetic spinal cord injury device (ESCID) has been adapted to develop a mouse model of spinal cord contusion injury. In the present study, we have extended this model in C57Bl/6 mice with behavioral and histopathological outcome assessment. Three groups of mice received a laminectomy at the T(9) vertebral level followed by a contusion injury from a predetermined starting load of 1500 dynes. Contusion was produced by rapid displacement of the spinal cord to a peak distance of 0.3, 0.5, or 0.8 mm, with the entire injury and retraction procedure completed over a 23-ms epoch. Control groups received laminectomy alone or complete transection. Functional recovery was examined for 9 weeks after injury using the BBB locomotor rating scale, grid walking, and footprint analysis. Distinct patterns of locomotor recovery were evident across the five groups. Measurements of spared white matter at the epicenter, lesion length, and cross-sectional area of fibronectin-immunopositive scar tissue were also significantly different between injury groups. The severity of injury corresponded with the biomechanical measures recorded at the time of impact as well as with behavioral and histological parameters. The results demonstrate that graded contusion injuries can be produced reliably in mice using the ESCID. The data provide a thorough and quantitative analysis of the effects of contusion injury on long-term behavioral and histological outcome measures in this strain and species.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.