Characterization of the Antibody Response after Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Antigona Ulndreaj, Apostolia Tzekou, Andrea J. Mothe, Ahad M. Siddiqui, Rachel Dragas, Charles H. Tator, Emina E. Torlakovic, Michael G. Fehlings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The immune system plays a critical and complex role in the pathobiology of spinal cord injury (SCI), exerting both beneficial and detrimental effects. Increasing evidence suggests that there are injury level-dependent differences in the immune response to SCI. Patients with traumatic SCI have elevated levels of circulating autoantibodies against components of the central nervous system, but the role of these antibodies in SCI outcomes remains unknown. In rodent models of mid-thoracic SCI, antibody-mediated autoimmunity appears to be detrimental to recovery. However, whether autoantibodies against the spinal cord are generated following cervical SCI (cSCI), the most common level of injury in humans, remains undetermined. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated the antibody responses following cSCI in a rat model of injury. We found increased immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM antibodies in the spinal cord in the subacute phase of injury (2 weeks), but not in more chronic phases (10 and 20 weeks). At 2 weeks post-cSCI, antibodies were detected at the injury epicenter and co-localized with the astroglial scar and neurons of the ventral horn. These increased levels of antibodies corresponded with enhanced activation of immune responses in the spleen. Higher counts of antibody-secreting cells were observed in the spleen of injured rats. Further, increased levels of secreted IgG antibodies and enhanced proliferation of T-cells in splenocyte cultures from injured rats were found. These findings suggest the potential development of autoantibody responses following cSCI in the rat. The impact of the post-traumatic antibody responses on functional outcomes of cSCI is a critical topic that requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1226
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017


  • IgG/IgM immunoglobulins
  • antibody-secreting cells (ASCs)
  • astrocytes
  • autoantibodies
  • cervical spinal cord injury (cSCI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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