Objective: To test the hypothesis that spinal cord protection induced by ischemic postconditioning is mediated by an increase of endogenous antioxidant enzyme activities during reperfusion phase in spinal cord.
Methods: Seventy-eight male New Zealand rabbits were randomly divided into 3 groups: Sham group (n = 18) undergoing sham operation without aortic occlusion; ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) group (n = 30) undergoing occlusion of the infrarenal abdominal aorta for 20 min, followed by reperfusion; and postconditioning (PostC) group (n = 30) undergoing occlusion of the infrarenal abdominal aorta for 20 min followed by 3 cycles of 30 s reperfusion/30 s ischemia just at the onset of reperfusion. 30 min, and 1, 3, 6, 24, and 48 h after reperfusion 5 rabbits from each group (and 3 from the Sham group) were killed with their spinal cords taken out, and spectrophotometric method was used to determine the antioxidant enzyme activity and malondialdehyde (MDA) content 6, 24, and 48 h after reperfusion motor function scoring of the hind limbs was conducted.
Results: (1) The motor function scores of the PostC group were significantly higher than those of the I/R group 6, 24, and 48 h after reperfusion (all P < 0.05). (2) The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) in the spinal cord tissue of the PostC group 30 min-6 h after reperfusion were all significantly higher than those of the I/R group (all P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in the activity of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-px) at different time points between the PostC and I/R groups. (3) The MDA levels 24 h and 48 h after reperfusion of the PostC group were both significantly lower than that of the I/R group (both P < 0.01).
Conclusion: Ischemic postconditioning shows effect against spinal cord ischemic-reperfusion injury mediated, at least partially, by up-regulating the activities of SOD and CAT in spinal cord during early reperfusion phase.