Research ArticleSpinal Cord Injury

Acute hyperglycemia impairs functional improvement after spinal cord injury in mice and humans

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Science Translational Medicine  01 Oct 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 256, pp. 256ra137
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009430

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Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating disorder for which the identification of exacerbating factors is urgently needed. We demonstrate that transient hyperglycemia during acute SCI is a detrimental factor that impairs functional improvement in mice and human patients after acute SCI. Under hyperglycemic conditions, both in vivo and in vitro, inflammation was enhanced through promotion of the nuclear translocation of the nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) transcription factor in microglial cells. During acute SCI, hyperglycemic mice exhibited progressive neural damage, with more severe motor deficits than those observed in normoglycemic mice. Consistent with the animal study findings, a Pearson χ2 analysis of data for 528 patients with SCI indicated that hyperglycemia on admission (glucose concentration ≥126 mg/dl) was a significant risk predictor of poor functional outcome. Moreover, a multiple linear regression analysis showed hyperglycemia at admission to be a powerful independent risk factor for a poor motor outcome, even after excluding patients with diabetes mellitus with chronic hyperglycemia (regression coefficient, −1.37; 95% confidence interval, −2.65 to −0.10; P < 0.05). Manipulating blood glucose during acute SCI in hyperglycemic mice rescued the exacerbation of pathophysiology and improved motor functional outcomes. Our findings suggest that hyperglycemia during acute SCI may be a useful prognostic factor with a negative impact on motor function, highlighting the importance of achieving tight glycemic control after central nervous system injury.

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