Aims In the present research, we assessed the therapeutic effects of Exendin-4 (Ex-4) on rat models with spinal cord injury (SCI). Materials and methods 36 male Sprague–Dawley rats were randomly allocated into three groups, including sham operation group, SCI group and SCI+Ex-4 group (Ex-4 treatment (10 µg/rat) after SCI, i.p.). In the SCI group, a laminectomy was performed at the T10 vertebrae, followed by weight-drop contusion of the spinal cord. In the sham group, a laminectomy was carried out without SCI contusion. Key findings Our results showed that Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan scale scores were significantly decreased after SCI, and were obviously improved in SCI rats with Ex-4 administration. Additionally, the water content of spinal cord in SCI group was dramatically increased than that in sham group, and after Ex-4 treatment, degree of edema of spinal cord was remarkably reduced. And also, concentration levels of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α) in the spinal cord were significantly elevated after SCI, and were remarkably reduced in SCI rats with Ex-4 administration. Subsequently, cell apoptosis rate in the injured spinal cord was significantly increased, and after Ex-4 treatment, cell apoptosis rate was remarkably decreased. We also revealed that levels of PCBP2 mRNA and protein were significantly up-regulated after SCI, and were dramatically dropped in SCI rats with Ex-4 administration. Significance Take altogether, our findings disclosed that Ex-4 plays a role in promoting neurological function recovery and inhibiting neuronal apoptosis through effecting PCBP2 expression in SCI rat models.
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