The activation of oxidative damage, neuroinflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in secondary pathomechanisms following spinal cord injury (SCI). These pathophysiological processes lead to cell death and are tightly regulated by nuclear factor E2-related factor 2/antioxidant response element (Nrf2/ARE) signaling. Here, we investigated whether activation of Nrf2/ARE is neuroprotective following SCI. Female Fischer rats were subjected to mild thoracic SCI (T8) using the New York University injury device. As early as 30 min after SCI, levels of Nrf2 transcription factor were increased in both nuclear and cytoplasmic fractions of neurons and astrocytes at the lesion site and remained elevated for 3 days. Treatment of injured rats with sulforaphane, an activator of Nrf2/ARE signaling, significantly increased levels of Nrf2 and glutamate-cysteine ligase (GCL), a rate-limiting enzyme for synthesis of glutathione, and decreased levels of inflammatory cytokines, interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) thus leading to a reduction in contusion volume and improvement in coordination. These results show that activation of the Nrf2/ARE pathway following SCI is neuroprotective and that sulforaphane is a viable compound for neurotherapeutic intervention in blocking pathomechanisms following SCI.
- antioxidant response element
- nuclear factor E2-related factor 2
- oxidative stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology