Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT)
Spinal cord trauma
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The possibility that serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is involved in the early tissue reactions occurring in spinal cord trauma was examined in a rat model using an immunocytochemical technique. The injury was made in the form of a 5-mm long and 2.5-mm wide lesion of the right dorsal horn at the level of T10–11. Injured rats, pretreated with the 5-HT synthesis blocking agent, p-chlorophenyl alanine (p-CPA) were compared with untreated injured controls and the animals were allowed to survive for 5 h. The distribution of 5-HT was examined in proximal and distal cross-sections of the cord, located 2 and 5 mm away from the injury. Normal rats showed immunoreactive material in nerve cell processes and in a few nerve cell bodies of the ventral horns. The trauma to the spinal cord caused a marked increase in 5-HT immunoreactivity in the segments located 2 mm proximal and distal to the injury, particularly in the ipsilateral ventral horn. The segment located 5 mm distal to the lesion showed a similar increase in immunoreactivity but it was apparently less pronounced in the corresponding proximal segment. Treatment with p-CPA markedly reduced the trauma-induced increase in 5-HT immunoreactivity in all the segments. These immunohistochemical findings were in line with the changes in the contents of 5-HT measured biochemically in corresponding spinal cord segments. At the onset of the trauma to the spinal cord 5-HT is thus present in the tissue, mainly in the form of 5-HT-containing nerve cell processes. Biochemical determinations also revealed that there is an increased amount of 5-HT in the traumatized spinal cord. The present study indicates that this is at least partly due to an increased amount of 5-HT in neurons and nerve cell processes of the perifocal region. The pathophysiollogical significance of the observed 5-HT-reaction in spinal cord injury is not known in all its details. However, 5-HT might be implicated in such tissue reaction, such as increased microvascular permea bility and edema formation occurring in the early period after trauma.
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