TABLE 3-4 Commonly Used Animal Models of Spinal Cord Injury

Animal and Injury Modeled

Primary Utility and Potential Issues

Primate transection

  • Test the safety and efficacies of therapies

  • Determine the role of the central pattern generator in bipedal animals

  • Ethical complications with the use of primates

  • High cost of animal maintenance

  • Limited number of animals that can be prepared for experimentation

  • Spatial arrangement of the tracts differs from that in humans

Cat contusion, transection

  • Examine and define spinal cord circuitry and the central pattern generator

  • Central pattern generator may have different amounts of brain regulation compared with that in humans

  • Spatial arrangement of the tracts differs from that in humans

  • Chromosomes and genes are organized differently from those in humans

Mouse contusion, compression, transection, transgenic, microlesion formation

  • Investigate molecular and anatomical changes that occur in response to injury; however, mice respond differently than humans to spinal cord injury

  • Examine specific molecular targets for potential therapeutic targets

  • Modify genes to test the effect on restoration or loss of function

  • Difficult to assess upper extremity function

  • Genetic variability in injury response, including scar formation

  • Differences in scale size of spinal cord between mice and humans

  • Spatial arrangement of the tracts differs between mice and humans

  • Chromosomes and genes are organized differently from those in humans

Rat contusion, compression, transection, microlesion formation

  • Investigate molecular and anatomical changes that occur in response to injury

  • Difficult to assess upper extremity function

  • Differences in scale size of spinal cord in rats versus humans

  • Chromosomes and genes are organized differently from those in humans

NOTE: Contusion refers to a bruising of the spinal cord. Transection models are used to simulate lacerations to the spinal cord. Transgenic refers to modification of the animal’s genetic profile, which is done by deleting or modifying existing genes or introducing a novel gene.



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