Spinal cord injury usually results in permanent paralysis because of lack of regrowth of damaged neurons. Here we demonstrate that adult mice lacking EphA4 (-/-), a molecule essential for correct guidance of spinal cord axons during development, exhibit axonal regeneration and functional recovery after spinal cord hemisection. Anterograde and retrograde tracing showed that axons from multiple pathways, including corticospinal and rubrospinal tracts, crossed the lesion site. EphA4-/- mice recovered stride length, the ability to walk on and climb a grid, and the ability to grasp with the affected hindpaw within 1-3 months of injury. EphA4 expression was upregulated on astrocytes at the lesion site in wild-type mice, whereas astrocytic gliosis and the glial scar were greatly reduced in lesioned EphA4-/- spinal cords. EphA4-/- astrocytes failed to respond to the inflammatory cytokines, interferon-gamma or leukemia inhibitory factor, in vitro. Neurons grown on wild-type astrocytes extended shorter neurites than on EphA4-/- astrocytes, but longer neurites when the astrocyte EphA4 was blocked by monomeric EphrinA5-Fc. Thus, EphA4 regulates two important features of spinal cord injury, axonal inhibition, and astrocytic gliosis.
"Deactivation of any of these proteins individually results in only partial recovery (Kim et al., 2003; Simonen et al., 2003; Zheng et al., 2003; Goldshmit et al., 2004; Figueroa et al., 2006; Fabes et al., 2007; Lee et al., 2010). These repellent signals mediate growth cone collapse through the activation of intracellular kinases (Forgione and Fehlings, 2014; Lin et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2014). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The spinal cord has the ability to regenerate but the microenvironment generated after trauma reduces that capacity. An increase in Src family kinase (SFK) activity has been implicated in neuropathological conditions associated with central nervous system trauma. Therefore, we hypothesized that a decrease in SFK activation by a long-term treatment with 4-amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-7-(t-butyl)pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyramidine (PP2), a selective SFK inhibitor, after spinal cord contusion with the New York University (NYU) impactor device would generate a permissive environment that improves axonal sprouting and/or behavioral activity. Results demonstrated that long-term blockade of SFK activation with PP2 increases locomotor activity at 7, 14, 21 and 28 days post-injury in the Basso, Beattie, and Bresnahan open field test, round and square beam crossing tests. In addition, an increase in white matter spared tissue and serotonin fiber density was observed in animals treated with PP2. However, blockade of SFK activity did not change the astrocytic response or infiltration of cells from the immune system at 28 days post-injury. Moreover, a reduced SFK activity with PP2 diminished Ephexin (a guanine nucleotide exchange factor) phosphorylation in the acute phase (4 days post-injury) after trauma. Together, these findings suggest a potential role of SFK in the regulation of spared tissue and/or axonal outgrowth that may result in functional locomotor recovery during the pathophysiology generated after spinal cord injury. Our study also points out that ephexin1 phosphorylation (activation) by SFK action may be involved in the repulsive microenvironment generated after spinal cord injury.
Neural Regeneration Research 12/2014; 9(24):2164-73. DOI:10.4103/1673-5374.147949 · 0.22 Impact Factor
"Upregulations of ephrins and their Eph receptors have been described in reactive astrocytes close to rat spinal cord injury [29, 31, 113]. The regulation of ephrin system close to spinal cord injury has been associated with its ability to interfere with cell activation related to wound repair  and also to inhibit neurite outgrowth and axonal regeneration close to a wound repair region [114, 115]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pigment epithelium derived factor (PEDF) exerts trophic actions to motoneurons and modulates nonneuronal restorative events, but its effects on neuroplasticity responses after spinal cord (SC) injury are unknown. Rats received a low thoracic SC photothrombotic ischemia and local injection of PEDF and were evaluated behaviorally six weeks later. PEDF actions were detailed in SC ventral horn (motor) in the levels of the lumbar central pattern generator (CPG), far from the injury site. Molecules related to neuroplasticity (MAP-2), those that are able to modulate such event, for instance, neurotrophic factors (NT-3, GDNF, BDNF, and FGF-2), chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPG), and those associated with angiogenesis and antiapoptosis (laminin and Bcl-2) and Eph (receptor)/ephrin system were evaluated at cellular or molecular levels. PEDF injection improved motor behavioral performance and increased MAP-2 levels and dendritic processes in the region of lumbar CPG. Treatment also elevated GDNF and decreased NT-3, laminin, and CSPG. Injury elevated EphA4 and ephrin-B1 levels, and PEDF treatment increased ephrin A2 and ephrins B1, B2, and B3. Eph receptors and ephrins were found in specific populations of neurons and astrocytes. PEDF treatment to SC injury triggered neuroplasticity in lumbar CPG and regulation of neurotrophic factors, extracellular matrix molecules, and ephrins.
"In the tests, the performance of the mice is individually evaluated before and after the injury. Horizontal grid walking (Goldshmit et al. 2004, 2011): After 2 min of free walking, missteps (normalized to total number of steps taken by the left hind limb) were quantified. Open-field locomotion score: Evaluated for 3 min using the modified Basso–Beattie–Bresnahan (mBBB) scoring system of 20 points (PBS n = 11, Fgf2 n = 13) (Li et al. 2006). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major impediment for recovery after mammalian spinal cord injury (SCI) is the glial scar formed by proliferating reactive astrocytes. Finding factors that may reduce glial scarring, increase neuronal survival, and promote neurite outgrowth are of major importance for improving the outcome after SCI. Exogenous fibroblast growth factor (Fgf) has been shown to decrease injury volume and improve functional outcome; however, the mechanisms by which this is mediated are still largely unknown.
In this study, Fgf2 was administered for 2 weeks in mice subcutaneously, starting 30 min after spinal cord hemisection.
Fgf2 treatment decreased the expression of TNF-a at the lesion site, decreased monocyte/macrophage infiltration, and decreased gliosis. Fgf2 induced astrocytes to adopt a polarized morphology and increased expression of radial markers such as Pax6 and nestin. In addition, the levels of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), expressed by glia, were markedly decreased. Furthermore, Fgf2 treatment promotes the formation of parallel glial processes, "bridges," at the lesion site that enable regenerating axons through the injury site. Additionally, Fgf2 treatment increased Sox2-expressing cells in the gray matter and neurogenesis around and at the lesion site. Importantly, these effects were correlated with enhanced functional recovery of the left paretic hind limb.
Thus, early pharmacological intervention with Fgf2 following SCI is neuroprotective and creates a proregenerative environment by the modulation of the glia response.
Brain and Behavior 03/2014; 4(2):187-200. DOI:10.1002/brb3.172 · 2.24 Impact Factor
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