The amino acid taurine serves many functions in the nervous system serving as inhibitory neurotransmitter/neuromodulator, neurotrophin, antioxidant, and osmolyte. Taurine levels are increased following brain injury and glucocorticoid administration. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine spinal taurine concentrations following spinal cord injury (SCI) and methylprednisolone (MP) treatment of SCI. A total of 44 adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into control and lesion groups. Control rats received a T6 vertebral laminectomy while lesioned rats received a laminectomy followed by complete spinal transection. Half of the animals in each group received MP intravenously following sham-operation or SCI. Rats survived for 7 or 30 days and concentrations of taurine in spinal gray and white matter, in spinal segments both near and distant from the injury epicenter, were resolved by HPLC analysis. Taurine levels were increased 7 and 30 days following transection in spinal segments immediately adjacent to the lesion and were further elevated by MP treatment. No increases were seen in far rostral/caudal segments, and MP treatment alone had no effect on spinal taurine levels. These findings demonstrate that spinal injury results in increased taurine concentrations in spinal segments undergoing the greatest degree of cellular reactivity and tissue reorganization and that MP therapy potentiates these increases. These findings are significant in that they further characterize the effects of acute MP therapy in spinal tissue. Since taurine is thought to be involved in neuroprotection and/or regeneration following injury, the potentiation of taurine levels by MP treatment may relate to its therapeutic properties.
- Spinal cord