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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Dec 2021 - 31 Dec 2021

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 Dec 23

Brain Behav Immun


Sexual dimorphism in neurological function after SCI is associated with disrupted neuroinflammation in both injured spinal cord and brain.


Li Y, Ritzel RM, Lei Z, Cao T, He J, Faden AI, Wu J
Brain Behav Immun. 2021 Dec 23; 101:1-22.
PMID: 34954073.


Whereas human spinal cord injury (SCI) is more common in men, the prevalence is growing in women. However, little is known about the effect of biological sex on brain dysfunction and injury mechanisms. To model the highest per capita rate of injury (ages between 16 and 30 years old) in humans, in the present study, young adult or a young/middle-aged male and female C57BL/6 mice were subjected to moderate contusion SCI. When mice were injured at 10-12-week-old, transcriptomic analysis of inflammation-related genes and flow cytometry revealed a more aggressive neuroinflammatory profile in male than females following 3 d SCI, ostensibly driven by sex-specific changes myeloid cell function rather than cell number. Female mice were generally more active at baseline, as evidenced by greater distance traveled in the open field. After SCI, female mice had more favorable locomotor function than male animals. At 13 weeks post-injury, male mice showed poor performance in cognitive and depressive-like behavioral tests, while injured female mice showed fewer deficits in these tasks. However, when injured at 6 months old followed by 8 months post-injury, male mice had considerably less inflammatory activation compared with female animals despite having similar or worse outcomes in affective, cognitive, and motor tasks. Collectively, these findings indicate that sex differences in functional outcome after SCI are associated with the age at onset of injury, as well as disrupted neuroinflammation not only at the site of injury but also in remote brain regions. Thus, biological sex should be considered when designing new therapeutic agents.