Epidural fibrosis is the scar tissue formed over the dura mater after a laminectomy. Extensive epidural fibrosis may be an important underlying cause of failed back syndrome. Pimecrolimus, an ascomycin derivative, is one of the new classes of immunomodulating macrolactams and was specifically developed for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. This study examined the preventive effects of the local application of pimecrolimus in minimizing spinal epidural fibrosis in a rat laminectomy model.
Thirty Wistar rats were divided into 3 equal groups: control, mitomycin C (MMC), and pimecrolimus groups. Each rat underwent a laminectomy at the L-3 lumbar level. In the experimental groups, a cotton pad soaked with MMC (0.5 mg/ml) or 5 mg pimecrolimus was placed on the exposed dura mater. No treatment was performed in the control group rats. Thirty days after surgery, the rats were killed and the dura mater thickness, epidural fibrosis, and arachnoidal involvement were quantified.
The mean dura thickness was measured at 9.28 ± 3.39 μm in the MMC group and at 8.69 ± 2.32 μm in the pimecrolimus group, compared with 14.70 ± 4.14 μm in the control group. In addition, the epidural fibrosis and arachnoidal involvement were reduced significantly in the treatment groups compared with the control group.
In this animal model, it was shown that locally applied pimecrolimus effectively reduces epidural fibrosis and dural adherence in rats that underwent lumbar laminectomy. Mitomycin C was equally effective as pimecrolimus in reducing epidural fibrosis and dural adherence in this study.