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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 4792932, 7 pages
Research Article

Methylprednisolone Administration Following Spinal Cord Injury Reduces Aquaporin 4 Expression and Exacerbates Edema

1Spine Surgery Service, National Rehabilitation Institute, Mexico City, Mexico
2División de Neurociencias, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico
3Department of Experimental Surgery, Proyecto Camina A.C., Mexico City, Mexico
4Research Unit for Neurological Diseases, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Mexico City, Mexico

Correspondence should be addressed to Luis B. Tovar-y-Romo

Received 3 February 2017; Accepted 19 March 2017; Published 10 May 2017

Academic Editor: Edda Sciutto

Copyright © 2017 Eibar Ernesto Cabrera-Aldana et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is an incapacitating condition that affects motor, sensory, and autonomic functions. Since 1990, the only treatment administered in the acute phase of SCI has been methylprednisolone (MP), a synthetic corticosteroid that has anti-inflammatory effects; however, its efficacy remains controversial. Although MP has been thought to help in the resolution of edema, there are no scientific grounds to support this assertion. Aquaporin 4 (AQP4), the most abundant component of water channels in the CNS, participates in the formation and elimination of edema, but it is not clear whether the modulation of AQP4 expression by MP plays any role in the physiopathology of SCI. We studied the functional expression of AQP4 modulated by MP following SCI in an experimental model in rats along with the associated changes in the permeability of the blood-spinal cord barrier. We analyzed these effects in male and female rats and found that SCI increased AQP4 expression in the spinal cord white matter and that MP diminished such increase to baseline levels. Moreover, MP increased the extravasation of plasma components after SCI and enhanced tissue swelling and edema. Our results lend scientific support to the increasing motion to avoid MP treatment after SCI.