Graded unilateral cervical spinal cord injury and respiratory motor recovery

D. D. Fuller*, M. S. Sandhu, N. J. Doperalski, M. A. Lane, T. E. White, M. D. Bishop, P. J. Reier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


We examined the potential contribution of ventromedial (VM) tissue sparing to respiratory recovery following chronic (1 mo) unilateral C2 spinal cord injury (SCI) in rats. Preserved white matter ipsilateral to the injury was quantitatively expressed relative to contralateral white matter. The ipsilateral-to-contralateral white matter ratio was 0 after complete C2 hemisection (C2HS) and 0.23 ± 0.04 with minimal VM sparing. Inspiratory (breath min-1) and phrenic frequency (burst min-1), measured by plethysmography (conscious rats) and phrenic neurograms (anesthetized rats) respectively, were both lower with minimal VM sparing (p < 0.05 vs. C2HS). Tidal volume also was greater in minimal VM sparing rats during a hypercapnic challenge (p < 0.05 vs. C2HS). In other C2 hemilesioned rats with more extensive VM matter sparing (ipsilateral-to-contralateral white matter ratio = 0.55 ± 0.05), respiratory deficits were indicated at 1 mo post-injury by reduced ventilation during hypercapnic challenge (p < 0.05 vs. uninjured). Anterograde (ventral respiratory column-to-spinal cord) neuroanatomical tracing studies showed that descending respiratory projections from the brainstem are present in VM tissue. We conclude that even relatively minimal sparing of VM tissue after C2 hemilesion can alter respiratory outcomes. In addition, respiratory deficits can emerge in the adult rat after high cervical SCI even when relatively extensive VM sparing occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 28 2009


  • Breathing
  • Crossed phrenic
  • Plasticity
  • Respiratory
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • General Neuroscience
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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