Pituitary adenylyl cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a potent factor in the regulation of neurotransmission, neuroprotection, neurogenesis and anti-inflammation. We here examined the neuroprotective effect of PACAP on injury to the spinal cord tissue of adult rats, induced by dropping a 10 g NYU impactor from the height of 25 mm (moderate injury) or 50 mm (severe injury). PACAP was found to effectively attenuate cell apoptosis in the spinal cord with moderate injury. However, treatment with PACAP had a lesser effect on decreasing DNA fragmentation in the lesion center of the spinal cord with severe contusion injury. Yet, greater extended neural fibers and motor neurons were observed in the rostral and caudal regions of the PACAP-treated spinal cord when compared to that seen in the PBS-treated control. Our findings indicate the beneficial effect of PACAP for the treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI).
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