Early Targeting of L-Selectin on Leukocytes Promotes Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury, Implicating Novel Mechanisms of Pathogenesis.
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L-selectin, a lectin-like receptor on all leukocyte classes, functions in adhesive and signaling roles in the recruitment of myeloid cells from the blood to sites of inflammation. Here, we consider L-selectin as a determinant of neurological recovery in a murine model of spinal cord injury (SCI). Spinal cord-injured, L-selectin knock-out (KO) mice (male) showed improved long-term recovery with greater white matter sparing relative to wild-type (WT) mice and reduced oxidative stress in the injured cord at 72 h post-SCI. There was a partial and transient reduction in accumulation of neutrophils in the injured spinal cords of KOs at 24 h post-injury. To complement these findings with KO mice, we sought a pharmacologic means for lowering L-selectin levels. We found that diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), induced the shedding of L-selectin from the cell surface of myeloid subsets, specifically neutrophils and non-classical monocytes, in the blood and the injured spinal cord. Diclofenac administration to injured WT mice enhanced neurological recovery to a level comparable to that of KOs but did not improve recovery in KOs. While diclofenac treatment had no effect on myeloid cell accumulation, there was a reduction in oxidative stress at 72 h post-SCI. These findings implicate L-selectin in secondary pathogenesis beyond a role in leukocyte recruitment and raise the possibility of repurposing diclofenac for the treatment of SCI.