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Behav Neurosci. 2011 Dec;125(6):996-1002. doi: 10.1037/a0026032.

Rodent estrous cycle response to incomplete spinal cord injury, surgical interventions, and locomotor training.

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  • 1Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1527, USA.


Estrous cycle disruption after spinal cord injury (SCI) in female rats is a common phenomenon. It remains unknown, however, if the aberrant estrous cycle is a result of an injury to the spinal cord itself or due to the general stress associated with surgical interventions. We addressed this issue by determining estrous cyclicality in female rats after a spinal cord hemisection (HX), implantation of EMG wires into selected hind limb muscles, and/or injections of tracer dyes into the spinal cord. Because it is known that aerobic exercise can enhance the recovery of locomotor function in rodents with an incomplete SCI, we also determined if locomotor training positively impacts the disrupted estrous cycle after an HX. Estrous cycle assessments were made during a 5-8 week period in 27 female rats before and after HX, EMG, and/or dye injection surgeries and in HX rats that recovered spontaneously or underwent locomotor training. Our results show that estrous cyclicality was disrupted (cycle length >5 days) in approximately 76%, 46%, and 50% of the rats after HX, EMG, and dye injection surgeries, respectively. The cyclicality, however, was disrupted for a longer period after HX than after EMG or dye injection surgeries. Furthermore, estrous cycle mean length was shorter in the trained than nontrained HX group. These results suggest that estrous cycle disruption after a major SCI is a consequence of both the direct injury to the spinal cord and to the associated stress. Moreover, moderate aerobic exercise initiated early after a spinal cord HX returns the duration of the estrous cycle toward normal.

PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved.

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