Polyethylene Glycol Immediately Repairs Neuronal Membranes and Inhibits Free Radical Production After Acute Spinal Cord Injury

J Neurochem. 2002 Oct;83(2):471-80. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2002.01160.x.


Membrane disruption and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are important factors causing immediate functional loss, progressive degeneration, and death in neurons and their processes after traumatic spinal cord injury. Using an in vitro guinea pig spinal cord injury model, we have shown that polyethylene glycol (PEG), a hydrophilic polymer, can significantly accelerate and enhance the membrane resealing process to restore membrane integrity following controlled compression. As a result of PEG treatment, injury-induced ROS elevation and lipid peroxidation (LPO) levels were significantly suppressed. We further show that PEG is not an effective free radical scavenger nor does it have the ability to suppress xanthine oxidase, a key enzyme in generating superoxide. These observations suggest that it is the PEG-mediated membrane repair that leads to ROS and LPO inhibition. Furthermore, our data also imply an important causal effect of membrane disruption in generating ROS in spinal cord injury, suggesting membrane repair to be an effective target in reducing ROS genesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell-Free System / chemistry
  • Cell-Free System / drug effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Free Radicals / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Guinea Pigs
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology*
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology
  • Xanthine Oxidase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Xanthine Oxidase / metabolism


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Free Radicals
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Xanthine Oxidase