Objective To test in mice with a double mutation of the ApoE gene (ApoE-/-) whether spinal cord injury (SCI) hastens the native trajectory of, and established component risks for, atherosclerotic disease (AD), and whether Salsalate anti-inflammatory pharmacotherapy attenuates the impact of SCI. Methods ApoE-/- mice were anesthetized and underwent a T9 laminectomy. Exposed spinal cords were given a contusion injury (70 k-dynes). Sham animals underwent all surgical procedures, excluding injury. Injured animals were randomized to 2 groups: SCI or SCI+Salsalate [120 mg/Kg/day i.p.]. Mice were serially sacrificed at 20-, 24-, and 28-weeks post-SCI, and body mass was recorded. At sacrifice, heart and aorta were harvested intact, fixed in 10% buffered formalin, cleaned and cut longitudinally for en face preparation. The aortic tree was stained with oil-red-O (ORO). AD lesion histomorphometry was calculated from the proportional area of ORO. Plasma total cholesterol, triglycerides and proatherogenic inflammatory cytokines (PAIC's) were analyzed. Results AD lesion in the aortic arch progressively increased in ApoE-/-, significant at 24- and 28-weeks. AD in SCI is significantly greater at 24- and 28-weeks compared to time-controlled ApoE-/-. Salsalate treatment attenuates the SCI-induced increase at these time points. Body mass in all SCI groups are significantly reduced compared to time-controlled ApoE-/-. Cholesterol and triglycerides are significantly higher with SCI by 24- and 28-weeks, compared to ApoE-/-, and Salsalate reduces the SCI-induced effect on cholesterol. PAIC's interleukin-1ß (IL-1ß), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor a (TNFa), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 5 (CCL-5) are significantly greater with SCI compared to ApoE-/- at varying timepoints. Salsalate confers a marginal reducing effect on PAIC's by 28-weeks compared to SCI. Regression models determine that each PAIC is a significant and positive predictor of lesion. (p's <0.05). Conclusions SCI accelerates aortic AD and associated risk factors, and anti-inflammatory treatment may attenuate the impact of SCI on AD outcomes. PAIC's IL-1ß, IL-6, TNFa, MCP-1, and CCL-5 may be effective predictors of AD.
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