Electrical stimulation modulates injury potentials in rats after spinal cord injury*

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Abstract

An injury potential is the direct current potential difference between the site of spinal cord injury and the healthy nerves. Its initial amplitude is a significant indicator of the severity of spinal cord injury, and many cations, such as sodium and calcium, account for the major portion of injury potentials. This injury potential, as well as injury current, can be modulated by direct current field stimulation; however, the appropriate parameters of the electrical field are hard to define. In this paper, injury potential is used as a parameter to adjust the intensity of electrical stimulation. Injury potential could be modulated to slightly above 0 mV (as the anode-centered group) by placing the anodes at the site of the injured spinal cord and the cathodes at the rostral and caudal sections, or around −70 mV, which is resting membrane potential (as the cathode-centered group) by reversing the polarity of electrodes in the anode-centered group. In addition, rats receiving no electrical stimulation were used as the control group. Results showed that the absolute value of the injury potentials acquired after 30 minutes of electrical stimulation was higher than the control group rats and much lower than the initial absolute value, whether the anodes or the cathodes were placed at the site of injury. This phenomenon illustrates that by changing the polarity of the electrical field, electrical stimulation can effectively modulate the injury potentials in rats after spinal cord injury. This is also beneficial for the spontaneous repair of the cell membrane and the reduction of cation influx.

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