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J Neurotrauma. 2011 Aug;28(8):1545-88. doi: 10.1089/neu.2009.1149. Epub 2010 Apr 14.

A systematic review of non-invasive pharmacologic neuroprotective treatments for acute spinal cord injury.

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University of British Columbia, Combined Neurosurgical and Orthopaedic Spine Program, Department of Orthopaedics, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


An increasing number of therapies for spinal cord injury (SCI) are emerging from the laboratory and seeking translation into human clinical trials. Many of these are administered as soon as possible after injury with the hope of attenuating secondary damage and maximizing the extent of spared neurologic tissue. In this article, we systematically review the available pre-clinical research on such neuroprotective therapies that are administered in a non-invasive manner for acute SCI. Specifically, we review treatments that have a relatively high potential for translation due to the fact that they are already used in human clinical applications, or are available in a form that could be administered to humans. These include: erythropoietin, NSAIDs, anti-CD11d antibodies, minocycline, progesterone, estrogen, magnesium, riluzole, polyethylene glycol, atorvastatin, inosine, and pioglitazone. The literature was systematically reviewed to examine studies in which an in-vivo animal model was utilized to assess the efficacy of the therapy in a traumatic SCI paradigm. Using these criteria, 122 studies were identified and reviewed in detail. Wide variations exist in the animal species, injury models, and experimental designs reported in the pre-clinical literature on the therapies reviewed. The review highlights the extent of investigation that has occurred in these specific therapies, and points out gaps in our knowledge that would be potentially valuable prior to human translation.

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