Tranexamic acid reduces heme cytotoxicity via the TLR4/TNF axis and ameliorates functional recovery after spinal cord injury

Shingo Yoshizaki, Ken Kijima, Masamitsu Hara, Takeyuki Saito, Tetsuya Tamaru, Masatake Tanaka, Dai Jiro Konno, Yasuharu Nakashima, Seiji Okada

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a catastrophic trauma accompanied by intralesional bleeding and neuroinflammation. Recently, there is increasing interest in tranexamic acid (TXA), an anti-fibrinolytic drug, which can reduce the bleeding volume after physical trauma. However, the efficacy of TXA on the pathology of SCI remains unknown. Methods: After producing a contusion SCI at the thoracic level of mice, TXA was intraperitoneally administered and the bleeding volume in the lesion area was quantified. Tissue damage was evaluated by immunohistochemical and gene expression analyses. Since heme is one of the degraded products of red blood cells (RBCs) and damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs), we examined the influence of heme on the pathology of SCI. Functional recovery was assessed using the open field motor score, a foot print analysis, a grid walk test, and a novel kinematic analysis system. Statistical analyses were performed using Wilcoxon's rank-sum test, Dunnett's test, and an ANOVA with the Tukey-Kramer post-hoc test. Results: After SCI, the intralesional bleeding volume was correlated with the heme content and the demyelinated area at the lesion site, which were significantly reduced by the administration of TXA. In the injured spinal cord, toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), which is a DAMP receptor, was predominantly expressed in microglial cells. Heme stimulation increased TLR4 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) expression levels in primary microglial cells in a dose-dependent manner. Similarly to the in vitro experiments, the injection of non-lysed RBCs had little pathological influence on the spinal cord, whereas the injection of lysed RBCs or heme solution significantly upregulated the TLR4 and TNF expression in microglial cells. In TXA-treated SCI mice, the decreased expressions of TLR4 and TNF were observed at the lesion sites, accompanied by a significant reduction in the number of apoptotic cells and better functional recovery in comparison to saline-treated control mice. Conclusion: The administration of TXA ameliorated the intralesional cytotoxicity both by reducing the intralesional bleeding volume and preventing heme induction of the TLR4/TNF axis in the SCI lesion. Our findings suggest that TXA treatment may be a therapeutic option for acute-phase SCI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160
JournalJournal of neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 29 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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