BackgroundSpinal cord injury (SCI) causes neurological dysfunction with devastating consequences. SCI pathogenesis is accompanied by inflammasome activation and neuronal damage. But the spatial pattern and the time course of neuronal pyroptosis and apoptosis after SCI should be further elucidated. The microglial voltage-gated proton channel (Hv1) is implicated in reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced neuronal damage following ischemic stroke. However, there is a lack of quantification on the neuronal pyroptosis and apoptosis associated with microglial Hv1 after SCI.MethodsWe analyzed spatial and temporal characteristics of neuronal pyroptosis and apoptosis following SCI and investigated the effects of Hv1 deficiency on neuronal pyroptosis and the nod-like receptor 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome pathway by using a mouse model of SCI. We tested the effects of Hv1-deficient microglia on ROS production in vivo and examined the relationship between ROS and neuronal pyroptosis in vitro.ResultsWe observed that apoptosis was detected closer to the injury core than pyroptosis. The incidence of neuronal apoptosis peaked on day 1 after SCI and occurred before pyroptosis. Hv1 deficiency reduced neuronal apoptosis and NLRP3-inflammasome-mediated pyroptosis, improved axonal regeneration, and reduced motor deficits. SCI led to elevated ROS levels, whereas Hv1 deficiency downregulated microglial ROS generation. In vitro, ROS upregulated neuronal pyroptosis and activated the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway, both of which were reversed by addition of a ROS scavenger. Our results suggested that microglial Hv1 regulated neuronal apoptosis and NLRP3-induced neuronal pyroptosis after SCI by mediating ROS production.ConclusionFollowing SCI, neuronal pyroptosis lasted longer and occurred farther away from the injury core compared with that of neuronal apoptosis. Microglial Hv1 deficiency downregulated microglial ROS generation and reduced apoptosis and NLRP3-induced neuronal pyroptosis. Our findings may provide novel insights into Hv1-associated mechanisms underlying neuronal damage after SCI.