Stimulation of 5-HT2A Receptors Recovers Sensory Responsiveness in Acute Spinal Neonatal Rats

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Quipazine is a 5-HT2A-receptor agonist that has been used to induce motor activity and promote recovery of function after spinal cord injury in neonatal and adult rodents. Sensory stimulation also activates sensory and motor circuits and promotes recovery after spinal cord injury. In rats, tail pinching is an effective and robust method of sacrocaudal sensory afferent stimulation that induces motor activity, including alternating stepping. In this study, responsiveness to a tail pinch following treatment with quipazine (or saline vehicle control) was examined in spinal cord transected (at midthoracic level) and intact neonatal rats. Rat pups were secured in the supine posture with limbs unrestricted. Quipazine or saline was administered intraperitoneally and after a 10-min period, a tail pinch was administered. A 1-min baseline period prior to tail-pinch administration and a 1-min response period postpinch was observed and hind-limb motor activity, including locomotor-like stepping behavior, was recorded and analyzed. Neonatal rats showed an immediate and robust response to sensory stimulation induced by the tail pinch. Quipazine recovered hind-limb movement and step frequency in spinal rats back to intact levels, suggesting a synergistic, additive effect of 5-HT-receptor and sensory stimulation in spinal rats. Although levels of activity in spinal rats were restored with quipazine, movement quality (high vs. low amplitude) was only partially restored.

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