The use of poly(N-[2-hydroxypropyl]-methacrylamide) hydrogel to repair a T10 spinal cord hemisection in rat: a behavioural, electrophysiological and anatomical examination

  • Pertici Vincent
  • Amendola Julien
  • Laurin Jérôme
  • Gigmes Didier
  • Madaschi Laura
  • Carelli Stephana
  • Marqueste Tanguy
  • Gorio Alfredo
  • Decherchi Patrick


There have been considerable interests in attempting to reverse the deficit because of an SCI (spinal cord injury) by restoring neural pathways through the lesion and by rebuilding the tissue network. In order to provide an appropriate micro-environment for regrowing axotomized neurons and proliferating and migrating cells, we have implanted a small block of pHPMA [poly N-(2-hydroxypropyl)-methacrylamide] hydrogel into the hemisected T10 rat spinal cord. Locomotor activity was evaluated once a week during 14 weeks with the BBB rating scale in an open field. At the 14th week after SCI, the reflexivity of the sub-lesional region was measured. We also monitored the ventilatory frequency during an electrically induced muscle fatigue known to elicit the muscle metaboreflex and increase the respiratory rate. Spinal cords were then collected, fixed and stained with anti-ED-1 and anti-NF-H antibodies and FluoroMyelin. We show in this study that hydrogel-implanted animals exhibit: (i) an improved locomotor BBB score, (ii) an improved breathing adjustment to electrically evoked isometric contractions and (iii) an H-reflex recovery close to control animals. Qualitative histological results put in evidence higher accumulation of ED-1 positive cells (macrophages/monocytes) at the lesion border, a large number of NF-H positive axons penetrating the applied matrix, and myelin preservation both rostrally and caudally to the lesion. Our data confirm that pHPMA hydrogel is a potent biomaterial that can be used for improving neuromuscular adaptive mechanisms and H-reflex responses after SCI.