Evaluation of the effects of erythropoietin and interleukin-6 in rats submitted to acute spinal cord injury
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and erythropoietin (EPO) in experimental acute spinal cord injury (SCI) in rats. METHODS: Using standardized equipment, namely, a New York University (NYU) Impactor, a SCI was produced in 50 Wistar rats using a 10-g weight drop from a 12.5-mm height. The rats were divided into the following 5 groups of 10 animals each: ‘‘Group EPO’’, treated with erythropoietin only; ‘‘Group EPO + IL-6’’, treated with both substances; ‘‘Group IL-6’’, receiving IL-6 administration only; ‘‘Group Placebo’’, receiving a placebo solution; and ‘‘Group Sham’’, submitted to an incomplete procedure (only laminectomy, without SCI). All drugs and the placebo solution were administered intraperitoneally for three weeks. The animals were followed up for 42 days. Functional motor recovery was monitored by the Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan (BBB) scale on days 2, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and 42. Motor-evoked potential tests were performed on the 42nd day. Histological analysis was performed after euthanasia. RESULTS: The group receiving EPO exhibited superior functional motor results on the BBB scale. IL-6 administration alone was not superior to the placebo treatment, and the IL-6 combination with EPO yielded worse results than did EPO alone. CONCLUSIONS: Using EPO after acute SCI in rats yielded benefits in functional recovery. The combination of EPO and IL-6 showed benefits, but with inferior results compared to those of isolated EPO; moreover, isolated use of IL-6 resulted in no benefit.