A comprehensive look at the psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology of spinal cord injury and its progression: mechanisms and clinical opportunities

Mil Med Res. 2023 Jun 9;10(1):26. doi: 10.1186/s40779-023-00461-z.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating and disabling medical condition generally caused by a traumatic event (primary injury). This initial trauma is accompanied by a set of biological mechanisms directed to ameliorate neural damage but also exacerbate initial damage (secondary injury). The alterations that occur in the spinal cord have not only local but also systemic consequences and virtually all organs and tissues of the body incur important changes after SCI, explaining the progression and detrimental consequences related to this condition. Psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology (PNIE) is a growing area of research aiming to integrate and explore the interactions among the different systems that compose the human organism, considering the mind and the body as a whole. The initial traumatic event and the consequent neurological disruption trigger immune, endocrine, and multisystem dysfunction, which in turn affect the patient's psyche and well-being. In the present review, we will explore the most important local and systemic consequences of SCI from a PNIE perspective, defining the changes occurring in each system and how all these mechanisms are interconnected. Finally, potential clinical approaches derived from this knowledge will also be collectively presented with the aim to develop integrative therapies to maximize the clinical management of these patients.

Keywords: Gut microbiota; Immunoinflammatory dysfunction; Psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology (PNIE); Secondary injury; Spinal cord injury (SCI); Translational opportunities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / therapy