Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Cardiomyocytes; Orthostatic Hypotension; Autonomic Dysreflexia; Area; Shapefactor


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is typically a traumatic event that impacts a patient's physical, psychological, and social well-being by damaging motor and sensory neurons and altering autonomic function leading to cardiac remodeling (42). Spinal cord injuries are based on a scale of severity, with severe, high-level lesions strongly correlating to the degree of cardiovascular dysfunction. (30)(37)(41). The decline in cardiovascular function is prevalent after high thoracic SCI, with patients suffering from daily bouts of orthostatic hypotension (OH) and autonomic dysreflexia (AD), both of which prevent and delay rehabilitation efforts and lessen quality of life after injury (28)(30). Past studies have demonstrated robust cardiomyocyte remodeling and subsequent cardiovascular demise in completely transected rodent models of SCI (42)(43). This study provides more insight into the incidence of cardiomyocyte remodeling and LV atrophy following clinically-relevant thoracic vertebra, T2, contusions in rodents.

Lay Summary

Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects nearly 5.4 million individuals each year in the United States. There are two different forms of SCI: complete and incomplete injuries. Complete SCI involves complete loss of motor and sensory function, whereas incomplete SCI involves only partial loss of motor and sensory function. More than 65% of all clinically-relevant SCI are incomplete injuries. Despite only partially losing sensory and motor function, many secondary injuries arise after incomplete SCI. The most notable is cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in chronic, high-level SCI patients. After severe SCI, patients experience prolonged reductions in blood pressure and episodic increases in blood pressure, coupled with decreased contractility of the heart and cardiac remodeling. Studies presented in this thesis elaborate on previously-published data that examined cardiac cell morphology and remodeling following clinically-relevant, incomplete contusion injuries in rodents. This data, along with published work, illustrates how the level and severity of lesion in conjunction with functional recovery and hindlimb activity influence the incidence of cardiomyocyte changes following incomplete SCI.