Background: Disruption of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)/interstitial fluid (ISF) exchange in the spinal cord is likely to contribute to central nervous system (CNS) diseases that involve abnormal fluid accumulation, including spinal cord oedema and syringomyelia. However, the physiological factors that govern fluid transport in the spinal cord are poorly understood. The aims of this study were to determine the effects of cardiac pulsations and respiration on tracer signal increase, indicative of molecular movement following infusion into the spinal cord grey or white matter. Methods: In Sprague Dawley rats, physiological parameters were manipulated such that the effects of spontaneous breathing (generating alternating positive and negative intrathoracic pressures), mechanical ventilation (positive intrathoracic pressure only), tachycardia (heart atrial pacing), as well as hypertension (pharmacologically induced) were separately studied. Since fluid outflow from the spinal cord cannot be directly measured, we assessed the molecular movement of fluorescent ovalbumin (AFO-647), visualised by an increase in tracer signal, following injection into the cervicothoracic spinal grey or white matter. Results: Tachycardia and hypertension increased AFO-647 tracer efflux, while the concomitant negative and positive intrathoracic pressures generated during spontaneous breathing did not when compared to the positive-pressure ventilated controls. Following AFO-647 tracer injection into the spinal grey matter, increasing blood pressure and heart rate resulted in increased tracer movement away from the injection site compared to the hypotensive, bradycardic animals (hypertension: p = 0.05, tachycardia: p < 0.0001). Similarly, hypertension and tachycardia produced greater movement of AFO-647 tracer longitudinally along the spinal cord following injection into the spinal white matter (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.002, respectively). Tracer efflux was strongly associated with all blood vessel types. Conclusions: Arterial pulsations have profound effects on spinal cord interstitial fluid homeostasis, generating greater tracer efflux than intrathoracic pressure changes that occur over the respiratory cycle, demonstrated by increased craniocaudal CSF tracer movement in the spinal cord parenchyma.
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- Cerebrospinal fluid
- Interstitial fluid
- Intrathoracic pressure
- Spinal cord