Degeneration of axons in the corticospinal tract secondary to spinal cord ischemia in rats

K. S. Blisard, F. Follis, R. Wong, K. B. Miller, J. A. Wernly, O. U. Scremin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Occlusion of the thoracic aorta and both subclavian arteries (XC) in the rat model produces spastic paraplegia. In order to characterize the lesion of white matter, 14 male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent XC for 10.5 to 12 min, were observed for 32 days and assessed with a lesion score. A sham group of eight underwent surgical manipulations without XC. The spinal cords were studied by optical microscopy and electron microscopy. An additional group of normal animals (n=8) underwent spinal cord blood flow measurement with the autoradiographic technique. Optical microscopy showed normal histology in sham operated rats and rats with aortic cross-clamp and lesion score = 2-4 (n = 5), rare changes in the white matter of rats with lesion score = 8 (n = 2), and demyelination of the anterior and lateral tracts of the white matter and motor neuron loss in the gray matter of rats with lesion score = 13-15 (n = 7) and spastic paraplegia. In this last group, electron microscopy disclosed severe axonal degeneration of corticospinal tracts. In the same region spinal cord blood now was higher than the remaining white matter. This study confirms that spastic paraplegia observed in the rat model after XC is due to degeneration of the pyramidal tracts, perhaps more susceptible to injury due to the high spinal cord blood flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-140
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • Aortic occlusion
  • Blood flow
  • Corticospinal tract axon degeneration
  • Paraplegia
  • Spinal cord ischemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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