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Keywords:

  • spinal cord injury;
  • vaccinia virus complement control protein;
  • inflammation

Abstract: Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) claims approximately 10,000 new victims each year in the United States alone. The injury usually strikes those under the age of 30 years, often leading to a lifetime of pain, suffering, and disability. Therapeutic agents targeting spinal cord injury are sorely lacking, and therefore our laboratory endeavored to evaluate the potential therapeutic benefits of immediate post-injury administration of the vaccinia virus complement control protein (VCP). VCP is a multifunctional anti-inflammatory protein that can inhibit both pathways of complement activation and bind heparin. Utilizing a common animal model of contusion SCI, motor function recovery tests, and immunochemical stains, we evaluated the effects of VCP injected into spinal cord tissue following injury. Results demonstrate that VCP administration inhibits macrophage infiltration, reduces spinal cord destruction, and improves hind-limb function, establishing VCP as a strong candidate for further investigation in the treatment of SCI.