Behavioral effects of spinal cord transection in the developing rat

Brain Res. 1977 Apr 15;125(2):241-55. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(77)90618-7.


Albino rats, 0, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 or greater than 90 days of age, were given a mid-thoracic spinal cord transection. Evaluation of responses of the hindlimbs to a variety of behavioral tasks was begun on the day of surgery and at intervals throughout the postoperative survival period (up to 300 days). Two investigators, independently and without knowledge of the animals' ages or survival times, rated the response data. Histological study showed all transections to be complete. Large differences in behavior are observed when animals trasected at the neonatal stage (0-4 days of age) are compared with animals transected at the weanling stage (21-26 days of age)37. Results of the present investigation indicate a critical period near 15 days of age; animals lesioned prior to this age (0, 9, 12 days of age) show response development and recovery similar to the neonatally lesioned animal, whereas those animals lesioned at a later age (18, 21, greater than 90 days of age) show little recovery and are behaviorally similar to the weanling transected animal. In animals lesioned prior to the fifteenth postnatal day, postural responses appear depressed for a brief period but recover rapidly while most responses of animals in the older groups are depressed for longer periods and never attain the degree of recovery characteristic of the neonatally transected animal. Finally, like the neonatally transected animal, rats lesioned on the ninth and twelfth postnatal day develop certain responses at appropriate times relative to normal response development. If, however, these responses are mature and supraspinal control is present at the time of lesioning, they appear to be permanently depressed and fail to recover.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Hindlimb
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Posture
  • Rats
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*