Physiol. Res. 52: 481-496, 2003

Cauda Equina Syndrome and Nitric Oxide Synthase Immunoreactivity in the Spinal Cord of the Dog


 Institute of Neurobiology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, 1Department of Neurosurgery, Medical Faculty, Šafárik University, Košice, Slovak Republic, 2Anesthesiology Research Laboratory, University of California, San Diego, CA, U.S.A. and 3Minase Research Institute, Ono Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd., Osaka, Japan

Received  July 9, 2002
Accepted October 7, 2002

The development of the cauda equina syndrome in the dog and the involvement of spinal nitric oxide synthase immunoreactivity (NOS-IR) and catalytic nitric oxide synthase (cNOS) activity were studied in a pain model caused by multiple cauda equina constrictions. Increased NOS-IR was found two days post-constriction in neurons of the deep dorsal horn and in large, mostly bipolar neurons located in the internal basal nucleus of Cajal seen along the medial border of the dorsal horn. Concomitantly, NOS-IR was detected in small neurons close to the medioventral border of the ventral horn. High NOS-IR appeared in a dense sacral vascular body close to the Lissauer tract in S1-S3 segments. Somatic and fiber-like NOS-IR appeared at five days post-constriction in the Lissauer tract and in the lateral and medial collateral pathways arising from the Lissauer tract. Both pathways were accompanied by a dense punctate NOS immunopositive staining. Simultaneously, the internal basal nucleus of Cajal and neuropil of this nucleus exhibited high NOS-IR. A significant decrease in the number of small NOS immunoreactive somata was noted in laminae I-II of L6-S2 segments at five days post-constriction while, at the same time, the number of NOS immunoreactive neurons located in laminae VIII and IX was significantly increased. Moreover, high immunopositivity in the sacral vascular body persisted along with a highly expressed NOS-IR staining of vessels supplying the dorsal sacral gray commissure and dorsal horn in S1-S3 segments. cNOS activity, based on a radioassay of compartmentalized gray and white matter regions of lower lumbar segments and non-compartmentalized gray and white matter of S1-S3 segments, proved to be highly variable for both post-constriction periods.

Key words
Cauda equina syndrome • Nitric oxide synthase • Spinal cord • Dog

Reprint requests
Prof. Jozef Maršala, M.D.. Institute of Neurobiology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Šoltésovej 4, 040 01 Košice, Slovak Republic. E-mail:

© 2003 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences