Tail nerve electrical stimulation-induced walking training promotes restoration of locomotion and electrophysiology in rats with chronic spinal cord injury
World Journal of Neuroscience (WJNS)
. However, to date, few treatment strategies have demonstrated significant locomotor improvement in animal experiments. By using tail nerve electrical stimulation (TANES) as an open-field locomotor training method combined with glial scar ablation and cell transplantation, we have successfully promoted locomotor recovery in rats with chronic spinal cord contusion injury. The purpose of the present study is to further investigate the mechanism of TANES and its effect on electrophysiology. Spinal cord segment T10 of female, adult Long-Evans rats was contused using the NYU impactor device with 25 mm height setting. After injury, rats were randomly divided into three groups. Group I was used as a control without any treatment, group II and group III were subjected to basic treatment including glial scar ablation and transplantation of olfactory lamina propria 6 weeks after injury, and group III received TANES-induced open-field locomotor training weekly after basic treatment. All animals were allowed to survive 22 weeks, except some rats which were transected. Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan (BBB) open-field locomotor rating scale, horizontal ladder rung walking test, and electrophysiological tests were used to assess the restoration of functional behavior and conduction. Results showed that TANES significantly improves locomotor recovery and spinal cord conduction, reflex, as well as significantly reduces the occurrence of autophagia. Additionally, after transection, trained rats still maintained higher BBB score than that of control rats. This may be related to the activity-dependent plasticity promoted by TANES-induced locomotor training.