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Original Research | Open Access

Neurorestoratology evidence in an animal model with cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Xiang Li1,2Guangsheng Li1,3Keith Dip-Kei Luk1Yong Hu1,2,3( )
Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong,
Shenzhen Key Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Orthopaedic Trauma, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen,
Spinal Division, Department of Orthopaedics, Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Medical University, Guangdong, People’s Republic of China
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Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a chronic compression injury of the spinal cord, with potentially reversible conditions after surgical decompression, and a unique model of incomplete spinal cord injury. Several animal studies showed pathological changes of demyelination, axon loss and neuron apoptosis in rats with chronic spinal cord compression. However, there is a limited understanding of the neurological change in the spinal cord after surgical decompression. The aim of this study was to validate the neurorestoratology of myelopathic lesions in the spinal cord in a rat model.

Materials and methods:

A total of 16 adult Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups: sham control (group 1); CSM model with 4-week chronic compression (group 2), 2 weeks (group 3) and 4 weeks (group 4) after surgical decompression of CSM model. The compression and decompression were verified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. Neurological function was evaluated by Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor rating scale, ladder rung walking test and somatosensory-evoked potentials (SEPs). Neuropathological change was evaluated by histological examinations.


MRI confirmed the compression of the cervical spinal cord as well as the reshaping of cord morphology after decompression. After decompression, significant changes of neurological function were observed in BBB scores (p < 0.01, F = 10.52), ladder rung walking test (p < 0.05, F = 14.21) and latencies (p < 0.05, F = 5.76) and amplitudes (p < 0.05, F = 3.8) of SEP. Neuronal degeneration was obvious in the ventral horn with gradual restoration. After decompression, the motor neuron number in the ventral horn did not show significant changes (p > 0.05). However, increasing trend of myelin area and staining intensity were observed in all columns of the white matter (p < 0.05) after decompression, especially in the compressed lateral column.


The established rat model is able to simulate histopathological characteristics of cervical myelopathy in human beings. The neuropathological change demonstrated that neurorestoratology in the myelopathic spinal cord would probably attribute to axonal remyelination of the white matter, but there would be an incapability of neuronal regeneration.


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Journal of Neurorestoratology
Pages 21-29
Cite this article:
Li X, Li G, Dip-Kei Luk K, et al. Neurorestoratology evidence in an animal model with cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Journal of Neurorestoratology, 2017, 5(1): 21-29.








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Published: 17 January 2017
© 2017 The Author(s).

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