Gray matter of the bovine cervical spinal cord is mechanically more rigid and fragile than the white matter.


The gray matter of the cervical spinal cord has been thought to be equally or less rigid than the white matter. Based on this assumption, various studies have been conducted on the changes of stress distributions within the spinal cord under mechanical compression, although the mechanical properties of the white and gray matters had not been fully elucidated. The present study measured the mechanical properties of the white and gray matter of bovine spinal cords. For both the white and gray matter, the stress-strain curves had a nonlinear region, followed by a linear region, and then a region where the stresses plateaued before failure. In the nonlinear region, stress was not significantly different between the gray and white matter samples (strain approximately 0-10%), while stress and Young's modulus in the gray matter was significantly higher than the white matter in the linear part of the curve. The gray matter ruptured at lower strains than the white matter. These findings demonstrated the gray matter is more rigid and fragile than the white matter, and the conventional assumption (i.e., the white matter is more rigid than the gray matter) is not correct. We then applied our data to computer simulations using the finite element method, and confirmed that simulations agreed with actual magnetic resonance imaging findings of the spinal cord under compression. In future computer simulations, including finite element method using our data, changes in stress and strain within the cervical spinal cord under compression would be clarified in more detail, and our findings would also help to elucidate the area which can easily receive histologic damage or which could have hemodynamic disorders under mechanical compression, as well as severity and location of biochemical and molecular biological changes.

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@article{Ichihara2001GrayMO, title={Gray matter of the bovine cervical spinal cord is mechanically more rigid and fragile than the white matter.}, author={Kazuhiko Ichihara and Tetsuya Taguchi and Yutaka Shimada and Itsuo Sakuramoto and Seiko Kawano and Shinichi Kawai}, journal={Journal of neurotrauma}, year={2001}, volume={18 3}, pages={361-7} }