Functional and Histological Gender Comparison of Age-Matched Rats after Moderate Thoracic Contusive Spinal Cord Injury

Chandler L. Walker, Colin M.E. Fry, Junmei Wang, Xiaolong Du, Kirstin Zuzzio, Nai Kui Liu, Melissa J. Walker, Xiao Ming Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Spinal cord injury (SCI) afflicts hundreds of thousands of Americans, and most SCI (∼80%) occurs in males. In experimental animal models, however, many studies used females. Funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health recommend that new proposed studies should include both genders due to variations in gender response to injuries, diseases, and treatments. However, cost and considerations for some animal models, such as SCI, affect investigators in adapting to this recommendation. Research has increased comparing gender effects in various disease and injury models, including SCI. However, most studies use weight-matched animals, which poses issues in comparing results and outcomes. The present study compared histologic and functional outcomes between age-matched male and female Sprague-Dawley rats in a moderate thoracic contusion SCI model. Cresyl violet and eosin staining showed no significant differences in lesion volume between genders after 9 weeks post-SCI (p > 0.05). Luxol fast blue-stained spared myelin was similar between genders, although slightly greater (∼6%) in spared myelin, compared with cord volume (p = 0.044). Glial reactivity and macrophage labeling in the lesion area was comparable between genders, as well. Basso, Beattie, Bresnahan (BBB) functional scores were not significantly different between genders, and Hargreaves thermal hyperalgesia and Gridwalk sensorimotor analyses also were similar between genders, compared with uninjured gender controls. Analysis of covariance showed weight did not influence functional recovery as assessed through BBB (p = 0.65) or Gridwalk assessment (p = 0.63) in this study. In conclusion, our findings suggest age-matched male and female rats recover similarly in a common clinically relevant SCI model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1974-1984
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019


  • functional recovery
  • gender
  • gender effects
  • spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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