Background : Due to their anti-inflammatory action, corticosteroids are the reference treatment for brain injuries and many inflammatory diseases. However, the benefits of acute corticotherapy are now being questioned, particularly in the case of acute peripheral vestibulopathies (APV), characterized by a vestibular syndrome composed of sustained spinning vertigo, spontaneous ocular nystagmus and oscillopsia, perceptual-cognitive, posturo-locomotor, and vegetative disorders. We assessed the effectiveness of acute corticotherapy, and the functional role of acute inflammation observed after sudden unilateral vestibular loss.
Methods : We used the rodent model of unilateral vestibular neurectomy, mimicking the syndrome observed in patients with APV. We treated the animals during the acute phase of the vestibular syndrome, either with placebo or methylprednisolone, an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid. We used both cellular and behavioral approaches with 2-way ANOVA statistical analysis to evaluate the consequences of an acute anti-inflammatory treatment on post-lesional plasticity and functional recovery.
Results : We show here, for the first time, that acute anti-inflammatory treatment alters the expression of the adaptive plasticity mechanisms in the deafferented vestibular nuclei and generates enhanced and prolonged vestibular and postural deficits.
Conclusions : These results strongly suggest a beneficial role for acute endogenous neuroinflammation in vestibular compensation. They open the way to a change in dogma for the treatment and therapeutic management of vestibular patients.