Background: Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among youth and adults. Secondary injury mechanisms within the spinal cord (SC) are well known to cause deterioration after an acute impact. Free radical scavengers are among the most studied agents in animal models of SCI. Edaravone is a scavenger of hydroxyl radicals. Methods: We aimed to measure and compare the effects of both methylprednisolone and edaravone on tissue and on serum concentrations of nitric oxide (NO), malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity, and tissue total antioxidant capacity (TAC) in rats with SCI. SCI was induced in four groups of Wistar albino rats by a weight-drop method. The neurological function of the rats was periodically tested. At the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected, and SC tissue samples were harvested for biochemical evaluation. Results: The tissue level of NO was decreased in the edaravone-treated group compared with the no-treatment group (p < 0.05). The tissue levels of SOD and GSH-Px were higher in the edaravone-treated group than in the no-treatment group (p < 0.05). The serum levels of NO were lower in the edaravone-treated and methylprednisolone-treated groups than in the no-treatment group (p < 0.05). The serum levels of SOD in the edaravone-treated group did not differ from those of any other group. The serum levels of MDA in the edaravone-treated and no-treatment groups were higher than in the two other groups (p < 0.05). Tissue levels of MDA in the edaravone-treated group were lower than in the no-treatment group (p < 0.05). Tissue levels of TAC in the edaravone-treated group were higher than in the no-treatment and methylprednisolone-treated groups (p < 0.05). The neurological outcome scores of the animals in treatment groups did not depict any statistically significant improvement in motor functions. However, edaravone seemed to prevent further worsening of the immediate post-SCI neurological status. Conclusion: Our biochemical analyses indicate that edaravone is capable of blunting the increased oxidative stress that follows SCI. We show, for the first time, that edaravone enhances the TAC in SC tissue. This beneficial effect of edaravone on antioxidant status may act to minimize the secondary neurological damage that occurs during the acute phase after SCI.
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