Chronic spinal cord changes in a high-fat diet-fed male rat model of thoracic spinal contusion

Physiol Genomics. 2017 Sep 1;49(9):519-529. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00078.2017. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


Individuals that suffer injury to the spinal cord can result in long-term, debilitating sequelae. Spinal cord-injured patients have increased risk for the development of metabolic disease, which can further hinder the effectiveness of treatments to rehabilitate the cord and improve quality of life. In the present study, we sought to understand the impact of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity on spinal cord injury (SCI) by examining transcriptome changes in the area of the injury and rostral and caudal to site of damage 12 wk after injury. Adult, male Long-Evans rats received either thoracic level contusion of the spinal cord or sham laminectomy and then were allowed to recover on normal rat chow for 4 wk and further on HFD for an additional 8 wk. Spinal cord tissues harvested from the rats were processed for Affymetrix microarray and further transcriptomic analysis. Diverse changes in gene expression were identified in the injured cord in genes such as MMP12, APOC4, GPNMB, and IGF1 and 2. The greatest signaling changes occurred in pathways involved in cholesterol biosynthesis and immune cell trafficking. Together, the cord changes in the chronically obese rat following thoracic SCI reveal further potential targets for therapy. These could be further explored as they overlap with genes involved in metabolic disease.

Keywords: high-fat diet; microarray; obese; spinal cord injury.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Chronic Disease
  • Contusions / genetics*
  • Contusions / pathology
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Male
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spinal Cord / pathology*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Up-Regulation / genetics