Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Long-term changes of Th17 and regulatory T cells in peripheral blood of dogs with spinal cord injury after intervertebral disc herniation


Intervertebral disc herniation (IVDH) is one of the most common causes of spinal cord injury (SCI) in dogs. As a result of acute SCI, a complex inflammatory response occurs in the spinal cord. Th17 cells (Th17) produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, while regulatory T cells (Treg) have opposite effects producing anti-inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether Th17- and Treg cells are involved in the pathogenesis of SCI or whether cellular changes occur due to coexisting inflammatory diseases. We hypothesized that chronic alterations in the Th17/Treg ratio are associated with a worse outcome after SCI.


Twenty-six paretic or plegic dogs with IVDH with and without coexisting inflammatory disease were investigated in the acute stage of the disease and after recovery of SCI. In addition, a healthy control group was included (n = 14). Quantification of Th17 and Treg cells, from peripheral blood samples, was performed by multicolor flow cytometry and IL17 was measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).


After recovery significantly higher levels of Th17 (p = 0.0265) and Treg cells (p = 0.00025) were detected compared to acute IVDH but Th17/Treg ratio did not differ significantly. Recovered dogs and the control group did not differ significantly from each other. No association between an imbalance in the ratio and neurologic severity or underlying inflammatory diseases was found.


This study demonstrated that altered Th17 and Treg levels in peripheral blood are altered in the acute stage of IVDH, preexisting inflammatory diseases seem not to influence these cell populations. Th17 and Treg cells could be considered when evaluating new treatment strategies for SCI.


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