The role of hsp70, IL-1ß and TNF- α responses in recovery after canine spinal cord injury; a pilot investigation

Purpose of Study

The specific objectives of this study are to characterize specific inflammatory responses in the spinal fluid of dogs with acute SCI, , and correlate the degree of those responses with initial injury severity and long-term outcome 


Spinal cord injury (SCI) caused by intervertebral disc extrusion (IVDE) is a common neurologic problem in dogs, with Dachshunds and Miniature dachshunds representing up to 75% of the cases of acute IVDD in dogs. Severity of clinical signs can range from mild back pain to severe neurologic abnormalities such as paralysis with loss of sensation to the limbs. In patients were there is loss of sensation to the limbs, recovery after surgery is limited, with only 50-60% of dogs eventually regaining the ability to walk and many of those having residual fecal or urinary incontinence. Recently, studies have shown that secondary immune-mediated damage to nervous tissue is an important cause of failure to recover after spinal cord injury. The presence of pro-inflammatory molecules such as hsp70, IL-1β and TFN-α   in spinal fluid may represent important prognostic indicators of recovery as well as potential therapeutic targets to improve functional outcome in canine SCI patients. This proposal is designed as a pilot study to document whether hsp70, IL-1β and TFN-α   responses occur in the spinal fluid of a small number of dogs with SCI cause by IVDE. This pilot data will be used to design a large scale study correlating these inflammatory responses to long term functional outcome in dogs with IVDE, with the ultimate goal of developing treatments targeted at improving long term outcome in canine SCI patients.

The study involves obtaining spinal fluid (via a spinal tap) from dogs with SCI caused by IVDE in order to evaluate it for the markers of inflammation listed above. We will correlate the concentrations of these inflammatory markers with two assessments of injury severity- a locomotor gait score (to assess movement of the legs) and a sensory threshold score (to assess how well your dog can feel his toes). We will compare these results to determine whether increased amounts of inflammation correlate with more severe injury, or with long term recovery.

Major Inclusion criteria

To qualify for enrollment in this study, dogs must: 

  •  Have acute spinal cord injury caused by an intervertebral disc extrusion that is severe enough to require surgery.
  • Have not received steroids within 7 days of admission to the study.

Study Design

Dogs will have a blood sample drawn while under general anesthesia for diagnostic and surgical procedures. Spinal fluid will also be collected at this time. Dogs will be assigned an injury severity score on initial exam, and again at 3, 10, 30 and 90 days after surgery.

Client Compensation

  • The study will cover $100 towards the client’s bill and cover study costs associated with study follow up visits.

Contact Information

For more information on this study, please contact:

  • Dr. Moore

Phone: (614) 292-3551

  • Clinical Trials Office

Phone: 614-688-5713 or 614-247-8706

Email clinicaltrials [at] cvm [dot] osu [dot] edu