Functional Recovery After Spinal Cord Hemisection in Guinea Pigs: The Effects of Applied Electric Fields

J Comp Neurol. 1990 Jun 22;296(4):634-53. doi: 10.1002/cne.902960409.


Right lateral hemisection of the lower thoracic spinal cord was performed in 216 adult guinea pigs. Animals that proved suitable for the study were divided into one control and two experimental groups. Experimental animals were implanted with intraperitoneal stimulators delivering regulated current of 35 or 50 microA through electrodes placed 1 cm rostral and caudal of the hemisection. The cathode was cranial to the lesion in one group (n = 67) and caudal in the other (n = 33). Control animals (n = 62) were implanted with sham stimulators and electrodes delivering no current. The functional status of the animals was measured by tactile stimulation of the back skin to elicit the cutaneus trunci muscle reflex, and by the vestibulospinal free-fall response. The cutaneous response ipsilateral and caudal to the lesion was lost following hemisection and did not recover in any of the control animals or in animals with cathode caudal to the lesion. Recovery of the response was found in 9 of 67 animals in the cathode rostral group, between 56 and 139 days after injury. Toe spreading recovered spontaneously in 80-90% of animals in all groups. Of the possible mechanisms of skin reflex recovery, most current evidence points to regrowth of ascending nerve fibers in the lateral funiculus of the spinal cord local to the lesion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation*
  • Female
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*