Atraumatic Spine Distraction Induces Metabolic Distress in Spinal Motor Neurons

Jennifer E.S. Bell, Jennifer L. Seifert, Eileen N. Shimizu, Daniel J. Sucato, Mario I. Romero-Ortega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Corrective forces during spine deformity surgery, including distraction, impart significant stresses to the spinal cord that may result in permanent injury. Intraoperative neuromonitoring is commonly used by surgeons to recognize possible damage to the spinal cord in cases of evident traumatic or vascular damage to the spinal cord. However, mild insult to the spinal cord that does not result in obvious trauma or electrophysiological changes present a major clinical challenge as the mechanisms of this type of spinal cord injury (SCI) remain largely unknown, and thus preventive strategies are lacking. We used a sustained bidirectional spinal distraction animal model to determine the role of stretch-induced hypoxia in mild SCI. Direct measurement of intraparenchymal oxygen revealed an immediate decrease in partial pressure (47.08 ± 5.79% pO2) distal to the injury site following a 5-mm distraction. This hypoxic insult induced mitochondrial dysfunction as evidenced by an acute increase (216%) in protein oxidation 30 min post-injury, as well as a 37% decrease in perikaryal size and a 42% decrease in nuclear area (pyknosis) in ventral motor neurons at the injury site. These results indicate that hypoxic events during mild spine distraction may lead to cellular metabolic impairments and permanent functional deficits. The development of strategies targeting the prevention of hypoxic injury during spine distraction may be useful in protecting the cellular metabolic damage that may occur during spine surgery in the absence of overt mechanical or vascular SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2034-2044
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2017


  • carbonyls
  • hypoxia
  • iatrogenic injury
  • pyknosis
  • SCI
  • synaptophysin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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