Evaluation of miRNA in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma in dogs with and without naturally occurring acute spinal cord injury

Sponsor: Private Foundation

Status:  Currently Enrolling


Acute spinal cord injury affects thousands of people and numerous veterinary patients each year.  Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) can cause movement of the disc that lives between the bones of the spine. This movement can press on the spinal cord and cause compression, resulting in a common cause of acute spinal cord injury in veterinary patients and leads to lack of function in the legs. This disease requires surgery to remove the disc that is compressing the spinal cord to try to reverse the loss of function in the legs. It can also cause bruising of the spinal cord or lack of blood flow, which cannot be reversed by surgery. Numerous studies have shown that the amount of function lost, most severely with the loss of sensation in the toes, is the best way to predict how a patient will recover after surgery with a 50% chance of recovery. However, why half of these patients recovery and the others don’t recover or worsen is not clear at this time . Additionally, in disease processes where compression is not the main cause of injury and the bruising or lack of blood flow (ischemia) is the main cause of clinical signs, few studies have been conducted to determine prognosis. There are other diseases beside IVDD that can also lead to ischemia of the spinal cord and there is no treatment available to reverse these signs.

An important goal of this study is to understand how chemicals called nucleic acids (RNA) are altered in canine patients after acute spinal cord injury. The study will focus on microRNA (miRNA), as these chemicals tell the body how to adapt after an injury or illness and can be targeted to help change the way our bodies respond through medications or therapies. They can also help aid our understanding of how humans and animals will recover from diseases. The specific objective of this study is to understand the quantity of specific miRNA, which are released into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, the fluid that lives around the brain and spinal cord) of canine patients after acute spinal cord injury (ASCI) versus non-ASCI patients undergoing sampling of the CSF for diagnosis of their disease.  Additionally, we aim to determine if plasma and CSF miRNA content differs within and between patient groups. .

Client Benefits:

The study will cover all the costs associated with the CSF tap, including the procedure and the fluid analysis.  The CSF will benefit the diagnosis and treatment of your dog by supplementing our workup and can help us determine the chances of recovery for your dog.  Your pet’s participation will also allow us to gain information which may help in the diagnosis, management and treatment of other dogs with this condition in the future.  You understand that your animal’s participation in this study may not alleviate or cure his/her ailment.

Contact information:

For questions regarding the clinical trial please email the clinical trials technician, Diane Welsh at:  clinicaltrials@tufts.edu