The efficacy of alpha-tocopherol in functional recovery of spinal cord injured rats: an experimental study

Spinal Cord. 2009 Sep;47(9):662-7. doi: 10.1038/sc.2009.22. Epub 2009 Mar 17.


Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the effects of the alpha-tocopherol on rats with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Setting: Research Center, Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Method: Female Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 180-220 g were anesthetized with chloral hydrate (450 mg kg(-1) body weight) by intraperitoneal injection and laminectomy was performed at the T 7-8 level leaving the dura intact. A compression plate (2.2 x 5.0 mm) was loaded with a weight of 35 g placed on the exposed cord for 5 min to create SCI. The subjects were divided into three groups of eight rats each. Group 1 served as control (SCI+saline); whereas groups 2 and 3 served as test groups, alpha-tocopherol was given orally in doses of 1000 mg kg(-1) body weight for group 2 and 2000 mg kg(-1) body weight for group 3, respectively. Daily activities were recorded in the activity cage for 14 days post-operatively.

Results: At day 1 (baseline, 24 h after the surgery), there was no significant difference between mean motor scores of all groups. After day 1, the three groups showed continuous improvement in motor score; such improvement was maintained throughout the duration of the study with different levels for each group. By the end of the study (day 14), groups 2 and 3 showed statistically significant improvement in the mean motor score compared with group 1 (P<0.05). However, no significant difference was observed between test groups 2 and 3 by the end of the study.

Conclusion: The results suggest that the administration of alpha-tocopherol may have reparative effects for SCI because of its antioxidant effect.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Movement / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors
  • alpha-Tocopherol / pharmacology*
  • alpha-Tocopherol / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • alpha-Tocopherol