Effects of flunarizine on neurological recovery and spinal cord blood flow in experimental spinal cord ischemia in rabbits.
The lipophilic calcium channel antagonist flunarizine has been demonstrated to be neuroprotective in several models of cerebral ischemia. Ischemic spinal cord injury may have a similar pathophysiology and hence may respond in a similar fashion. This study was designed to investigate the effects of pretreatment with flunarizine on systemic hemodynamics, spinal cord blood flow, and neurological recovery in a rabbit model of ischemic spinal cord injury.
New Zealand White rabbits were anesthetized with ketamine and xylazine and instrumented for systemic blood pressure monitoring and spinal cord blood flow measurements using the microsphere method. After pretreatment with flunarizine or vehicle, ischemic spinal cord injury was created selectively in the caudal regions of the spinal cord by cross-clamping the abdominal aorta for a period of 25 minutes. Spinal cord blood flow was measured before, during, and 15 minutes after cross-clamp removal. Animals were allowed to recover and were graded neurologically at 18 and 24 hours after ischemia.
Flunarizine injection was associated with hypotension that was both transient and dose related. Animals pretreated with flunarizine 0.4 mg/kg had significantly improved neurological recovery scores at 18 hours after ischemia (P = .017) compared with vehicle controls. At 24 hours this effect was lessened (P = .095); however, 60% of flunarizine-treated animals retained their ability to hop, whereas all of the vehicle-treated animals were nonambulatory.
Flunarizine has a protective effect on neurological recovery after experimental ischemic spinal cord injury. The therapeutic window is narrow, and dosing is limited by untoward hypotension. The mechanism of protection likely involves inhibition of pathological cytosolic calcium accumulation rather than a direct effect on vascular smooth muscle.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association