, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 373-381

Spinal nerve lesion induces upregulation of constitutive isoform of heme oxygenase in the spinal cord

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The influence of carbon monoxide (CO) on chronic spinal nerve lesion induced spinal cord neurodegeneration was examined using immunohistochemical expression of the constitutive isoform of its synthesising enzyme, hemeoxygenase-2 (HO-2) in a rat model. Spinal nerve lesion at L-5 and L-6 level was produced according to the Chung model of neuropathic pain and rats were allowed to survive for 8 weeks. Sham operated rats, in which the spinal nerves were exposed but not ligated, served as controls. Ligation of spinal nerves in rats resulted in an upregulation of HO-2 expression which was most pronounced in the ipsilateral gray matter of the spinal cord compared to the contralateral side. In these rats, morphological investigations showed distorted neurons, membrane disruption, synaptic damage and myelin vesiculation. Sham operated rats did not show an upregulation of HO-2 expression and the structural changes in the spinal cord were absent. These observations strongly suggest that spinal nerve lesion is associated with an increased production of CO which is somehow contributing to the neurodegenerative changes in the spinal cord, not reported earlier.