John D Houle

Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (74)265.77 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Activity-based therapies are routinely integrated in spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation programs because they result in a reduction of hyperreflexia and spasticity. However, the mechanisms by which exercise regulates activity in spinal pathways to reduce spasticity and improve functional recovery are poorly understood. Persisting alterations in the action of GABA on postsynaptic targets is a signature of CNS injuries, including SCI. The action of GABA depends on the intracellular chloride concentration, which is determined largely by the expression of two cation-chloride cotransporters (CCCs), KCC2 and NKCC1, which serve as chloride exporters and importers, respectively. We hypothesized that the reduction in hyperreflexia with exercise after SCI relies on a return to chloride homeostasis. Sprague Dawley rats received a spinal cord transection at T12 and were assigned to SCI-7d, SCI-14d, SCI-14d+exercise, SCI-28d, SCI-28d+exercise, or SCI-56d groups. During a terminal experiment, H-reflexes were recorded from interosseus muscles after stimulation of the tibial nerve and the low-frequency-dependent depression (FDD) was assessed. We provide evidence that exercise returns spinal excitability and levels of KCC2 and NKCC1 toward normal levels in the lumbar spinal cord. Acutely altering chloride extrusion using the KCC2 blocker DIOA masked the effect of exercise on FDD, whereas blocking NKCC1 with bumetanide returned FDD toward intact levels after SCI. Our results indicate that exercise contributes to reflex recovery and restoration of endogenous inhibition through a return to chloride homeostasis after SCI. This lends support for CCCs as part of a pathway that could be manipulated to improve functional recovery when combined with rehabilitation programs.
    Journal of Neuroscience 07/2014; 34(27):8976-87. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: . Transplants of cellular grafts expressing a combination of 2 neurotrophic factors, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) have been shown to promote and enhance locomotor recovery in untrained spinalized cats. Based on the time course of recovery and the absence of axonal growth through the transplants, we hypothesized that recovery was due to neurotrophin-mediated plasticity within the existing locomotor circuitry of the lumbar cord. Since BDNF and NT-3 have different effects on axonal sprouting and synaptic connectivity/strengthening, it becomes important to ascertain the contribution of each individual neurotrophins to recovery. . We studied whether BDNF or NT-3 only producing cellular grafts would be equally effective at restoring locomotion in untrained spinal cats. . Rat fibroblasts secreting one of the 2 neurotrophins were grafted into the T12 spinal transection site of adult cats. Four cats in each group (BDNF alone or NT-3 alone) were evaluated. Locomotor recovery was tested on a treadmill at 3 and 5 weeks post-transection/grafting. . Animals in both groups were capable of plantar weight-bearing stepping at speed up to 0.8 m/s as early as 3 weeks and locomotor capabilities were similar at 3 and 5 weeks for both types of graft. . Even without locomotor training, either BDNF or NT-3 only producing grafts promote locomotor recovery in complete spinal animals. More clinically applicable delivery methods need to be developed.
    Neurorehabilitation and neural repair 05/2014; · 4.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Spinal cord injury (SCI) impaired sensory fiber transmission leads to chronic, debilitating neuropathic pain. Sensory afferents are responsive to neurotrophic factors, molecules that are known to promote survival and maintenance of neurons, and regulate sensory neuron transduction of peripheral stimuli. A subset of primary afferent fibers responds only to the glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family of ligands (GFLs) and are non-peptidergic. In peripheral nerve injury models, restoration of GDNF or artemin (another GFL) to pre-injury levels within the spinal cord attenuates neuropathic pain. One noninvasive approach to increase the levels of GFLs in the spinal cord is through exercise (Ex), and to date exercise training is the only ameliorative, non-pharmacological treatment for SCI-induced neuropathic pain. The purpose of this study was three fold: 1) to determine whether exercise affects the onset of SCI-induced neuropathic pain; 2) to examine the temporal profile of GDNF and artemin in the dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord dorsal horn regions associated with forepaw dermatomes after SCI and Ex; and 3) to characterize GFL-responsive sensory fiber plasticity after SCI and Ex. Adult, female, Sprague–Dawley rats received a moderate, unilateral spinal cord contusion at C5. A subset of rats was exercised (SCI + Ex) on automated running wheels for 20 minutes, 5d/week starting at 5 days post injury (dpi), continuing until 9 or 37 dpi. Hargreaves’ and von Frey testing was performed preoperatively and weekly post SCI. Forty-two percent of rats in the unexercised group exhibited tactile allodynia of the forepaws while the other 58% retained normal sensation. The development of SCI-induced neuropathic pain correlated with a marked decrease in the levels of GDNF and artemin in the spinal cord and DRGs. Additionally, a dramatic increase in the density and the distribution throughout the dorsal horn of GFL-responsive afferents was observed in rats with SCI-induced allodynia. Importantly, in SCI rats that received Ex, the incidence of tactile allodynia decreased to 7% (1/17) and there was a maintenance of GDNF and artemin at normal levels, with a normal distribution of GFL-responsive fibers. These data suggest that GFLs and/or their downstream effectors may be important modulators of pain fiber plasticity, representing effective targets for anti-allodynic therapeutics. Furthermore, we highlight the potent beneficial effects of acute exercise after SCI.
    Experimental Neurology 01/2014; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    John D Houle, Marie-Pascale Côté
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    ABSTRACT: Current dogma states that meaningful recovery of function after spinal cord injury (SCI) will likely require a combination of therapeutic interventions comprised of regenerative/neuroprotective transplants, addition of neurotrophic factors, elimination of inhibitory molecules, functional sensorimotor training, and/or stimulation of paralyzed muscles or spinal circuits. We routinely use (1) peripheral nerve grafts to support and direct axonal regeneration across an incomplete cervical or complete thoracic transection injury, (2) matrix modulation with chondroitinase (ChABC) to facilitate axonal extension beyond the distal graft-spinal cord interface, and (3) exercise, such as forced wheel walking, bicycling, or step training on a treadmill. We and others have demonstrated an increase in spinal cord levels of endogenous neurotrophic factors with exercise, which may be useful in facilitating elongation and/or synaptic activity of regenerating axons and plasticity of spinal neurons below the level of injury.
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 04/2013; 1279(1):154-63. · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic neuropathic pain is a significant consequence of spinal cord injury (SCI) that is associated with evoked pain, including allodynia and/or hyperalgesia. Allodynia is defined as a painful response to normally innocuous stimuli and hyperalgesia occurs when there is an amplified pain response to normally noxious stimuli. There we describe a model of a unilateral cervical level (C5) contusion injury where sensory recovery was assessed weekly for 6 weeks in 32 adult, female, Sprague-Dawley rats. Bilateral thermal hyperalgesia and tactile allodynia is detectable in the fore- and hindpaws as early as 7 days post injury (dpi) and persists for at least 42 days. Paw withdrawal latency in response to a noxious thermal stimulus significantly decreased in the ipsilesional and contralesional fore- and hindpaws of every rat compared to intra-animal pre-operative values, which plateaued at 21 dpi. Interestingly, fewer than 40% of rats develop bilateral forepaw allodynia as measured by von Frey monofilament testing. Similar results occur in the hindpaws, where bilateral allodynia occurs in 46% of SCI rats. The contralesional forepaw and both hindpaws of ratsshowed a slight increase in paw withdrawal threshold to tactile stimuli acutely after SCI, corresponding to ipsilesional forelimb motor deficits that resolve over time. That there is no difference among allodynic and non-allodynic groups in lesion volume, overall spared tissue or specifically of the dorsal column or ventrolateral white matter where ascending sensory tracts reside suggests that SCI-induced pain does not depend solely on the size or extent of the lesion, but that other mechanisms are in play. These observations provide a valid model system for future testing of therapeutic interventions to preven the onset or to reduce the debilitating effects of chronic neuropathic pain after SCI.
    Journal of neurotrauma 12/2012; · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although axons lose some of their intrinsic capacity for growth after their developmental period, some axons retain the potential for regrowth after injury. When provided with a growth-promoting substrate such as a peripheral nerve graft (PNG), severed axons regenerate into and through the graft; however, they stop when they reach the glial scar at the distal graft-host interface that is rich with inhibitory chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans. We previously showed that treatment of a spinal cord injury site with chondroitinase (ChABC) allows axons within the graft to traverse the scar and reinnervate spinal cord, where they form functional synapses. While this improvement in outgrowth was significant, it still represented only a small percentage (<20%) of axons compared to the total number of axons that regenerated into the PNG. Here we tested whether providing exogenous brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) via lentivirus in tissue distal to the PNG would augment regeneration beyond a ChABC-treated glial interface. We found that ChABC treatment alone promoted axonal regeneration but combining ChABC with BDNF-lentivirus did not increase the number of axons that regenerated back into spinal cord. Combining BDNF with ChABC did increase the number of spinal cord neurons that were trans-synaptically activated during electrical stimulation of the graft, as indicated by c-Fos expression, suggesting that BDNF overexpression improved the functional significance of axons that did reinnervate distal spinal cord tissue.
    Experimental Neurology 09/2012; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examined gene expression in the lumbar spinal cord and the specific response of motoneurons, intermediate gray and proprioceptive sensory neurons after spinal cord injury and exercise of hindlimbs to identify potential molecular processes involved in activity dependent plasticity. Adult female rats received a low thoracic transection and passive cycling exercise for 1 or 4weeks. Gene expression analysis focused on the neurotrophic factors: brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), neurotrophin-4 (NT-4), and their receptors because of their potential roles in neural plasticity. We also examined expression of genes involved in the cellular response to injury: heat shock proteins (HSP) -27 and -70, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and caspases -3, -7, and -9. In lumbar cord samples, injury increased the expression of mRNA for TrkB, all three caspases and the HSPs. Acute and prolonged exercise increased expression of mRNA for the neurotrophic factors BDNF and GDNF, but not their receptors. It also increased HSP expression and decreased caspase-7 expression, with changes in protein levels complimentary to these changes in mRNA expression. Motoneurons and intermediate gray displayed little change in mRNA expression following injury, but acute and prolonged exercise increased levels of mRNA for BDNF, GDNF and NT-4. In large DRG neurons, mRNA for neurotrophic factors and their receptors were largely unaffected by either injury or exercise. However, caspase mRNA expression was increased by injury and decreased by exercise. Our results demonstrate that exercise affects expression of genes involved in plasticity and apoptosis in a cell specific manner and that these change with increased post-injury intervals and/or prolonged periods of exercise.
    Brain research 02/2012; 1438:8-21. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nerve regeneration in an injured spinal cord is often restricted, contributing to the devastating outcome of neurologic impairment below the site of injury. Although implantation of tissue-engineered scaffolds has evolved as a potential treatment method, the outcomes remain sub-optimal. One possible reason may be the lack of topographical signals from these constructs to provide contact guidance to invading cells or regrowing axons. Nanofibers mimic the natural extracellular matrix architecturally and may therefore promote physiologically relevant cellular phenotypes. In this study, the potential application of electrospun collagen nanofibers (diameter=208.2±90.4 nm) for spinal cord injury (SCI) treatment was evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Primary rat astrocytes and dorsal root ganglias (DRGs) were seeded on collagen-coated glass cover slips (two-dimensional [2D] substrate controls), and randomly oriented or aligned collagen fibers to evaluate scaffold topographical effects on astrocyte behavior and neurite outgrowth, respectively. When cultured on collagen nanofibers, astrocyte proliferation and expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were suppressed as compared to cells on 2D controls at days 3 (p<0.05) and 7 (p<0.01). Aligned fibers resulted in elongated astrocytes (elongation factor >4, p<0.01) and directed the orientation of neurite outgrowth from DRGs along fiber axes. In the contrast, neurites emanated radially on randomly oriented collagen fibers. By forming collagen scaffolds into spiral tubular structures, we demonstrated the feasibility of using electrospun nanofibers for the treatment of acute SCI using a rat hemi-section model. At days 10 and 30 postimplantation, extensive cellular penetration into the constructs was observed regardless of fiber orientation. However, scaffolds with aligned fibers appeared more structurally intact at day 30. ED1 immunofluorescent staining revealed macrophage invasion by day 10, which decreased significantly by day 30. Neural fiber sprouting as evaluated by neurofilament staining was observed as early as day 10. In addition, GFAP immunostained astrocytes were found only at the boundary of the lesion site, and no astrocyte accumulation was observed in the implantation area at any time point. These findings indicate the feasibility of fabricating 3D spiral constructs using electrospun collagen fibers and demonstrated the potential of these scaffolds for SCI repair.
    Tissue Engineering Part A 02/2012; 18(9-10):1057-66. · 4.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The high clinical relevance of models of incomplete cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) creates a need to address the spontaneous neuroplasticity that underlies changes in functional activity that occur over time after SCI. There is accumulating evidence supporting long projecting propriospinal neurons as suitable targets for therapeutic intervention after SCI, but focus has remained primarily oriented toward study of descending pathways. Long ascending axons from propriospinal neurons at lower thoracic and lumbar levels that form inter-enlargement pathways are involved in forelimb-hindlimb coordination during locomotion and are capable of modulating cervical motor output. We used non-invasive magnetic stimulation to assess how a unilateral cervical (C5) spinal contusion might affect transmission in intact, long ascending propriospinal pathways, and influence spinal cord plasticity. Our results show that transmission is facilitated in this pathway on the ipsilesional side as early as 1 week post-SCI. We also probed for descending magnetic motor evoked potentials (MMEPs) and found them absent or greatly reduced on the ipsilesional side as expected. The frequency-dependent depression (FDD) of the H-reflex recorded from the forelimb triceps brachii was bilaterally decreased although H(max)/M(max) was increased only on the ipsilesional side. Behaviorally, stepping recovered, but there were deficits in forelimb-hindlimb coordination as detected by BBB and CatWalk measures. Importantly, epicenter sparing correlated to the amplitude of the MMEPs and locomotor recovery but it was not significantly associated with the inter-enlargement or segmental H-reflex. In summary, our results indicate that complex plasticity occurs after a C5 hemicontusion injury, leading to differential changes in ascending vs. descending pathways, ipsi- vs. contralesional sides even though the lesion was unilateral as well as cervical vs. lumbar local spinal networks.
    Frontiers in Physiology 01/2012; 3:330.
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated microRNAs (miRs) associated with PTEN/mTOR signaling after spinal cord injury (SCI) and after hind limb exercise (Ex), a therapy implicated in promoting spinal cord plasticity. After spinalization, rats received cycling Ex 5 days/week. The expression of miRs, their target genes and downstream effectors were probed in spinal cord tissue at 10 and 31 days post injury. Ex elevated expression of miR21 and decreased expression of miR 199a-3p correlating with significant change in the expression of their respective target genes: PTEN mRNA decreased and mTOR mRNA increased. Western blotting confirmed comparable changes in protein levels. An increase in phosphorylated-S6 (a downstream effector of mTOR) within intermediate grey neurons in Ex rats was blocked by Rapamycin treatment. It thus appears possible that activity-dependent plasticity in the injured spinal cord is modulated in part through miRs that regulate PTEN and mTOR signaling and may indicate an increase in the regenerative potential of neurons affected by a SCI.
    Experimental Neurology 11/2011; 233(1):447-56. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adult central nervous system (CNS) neurons do not regenerate severed axons unaided but may regenerate axons into apposed predegenerated peripheral nerve grafts (PNGs). We examined gene expression by using microarray technology in laser-dissected lateral vestibular (LV) neurons whose axons were severed by a lateral hemisection at C3 (HX) and in lateral vestibular nucleus (LVN) neurons that were hemisected at C3 and that received immunosuppression with cyclosporine A (CsA) and a predegenerated PNG (termed I-PNG) into the lesion site. The results provide an expression analysis of temporal changes that occur in LVN neurons in nonregenerative and potentially regenerative states and over a period of 42 days. Axotomy alone resulted in a prolonged change in regulation of probe sets, with more being upregulated than downregulated. Apposition of a PNG with immunosuppression muted gene expression overall. Axotomized neurons (HX) upregulated genes commonly associated with axonal growth, whereas axotomized neurons whose axons were apposed to the PNG showed diminished expression of many of these genes but greater expression of genes related to energy production. The results suggest that axotomized LVN neurons express many genes thought to be associated with regeneration to a greater extent than LVN neurons that are apposed to a PNG. Thus the LVN neurons remain in a regenerative state following axotomy but the conditions provided by the I-PNG appear to be neuroprotective, preserving or enhancing mitochondrial activity, which may provide required energy for regeneration. We speculate that the graft also enables sufficient axonal synthesis of cytoskeletal components to allow axonal growth without marked increase in expression of genes normally associated with regeneration.
    The Journal of Comparative Neurology 07/2011; 519(17):3433-55. · 3.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Body-weight-supported treadmill training (BWSTT)-related locomotor recovery has been shown in spinalized animals. Only a few animal studies have demonstrated locomotor recovery after BWSTT in an incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) model, such as contusion injury. The contribution of spared descending pathways after BWSTT to behavioral recovery is unclear. Our goal was to evaluate locomotor recovery in contused rats after BWSTT, and to study the role of spared pathways in spinal plasticity after BWSTT. Forty-eight rats received a contusion, a transection, or a contusion followed at 9 weeks by a second transection injury. Half of the animals in the three injury groups were given BWSTT for up to 8 weeks. Kinematics and the Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan (BBB) test assessed behavioral improvements. Changes in Hoffmann-reflex (H-reflex) rate depression property, soleus muscle mass, and sprouting of primary afferent fibers were also evaluated. BWSTT-contused animals showed accelerated locomotor recovery, improved H-reflex properties, reduced muscle atrophy, and decreased sprouting of small caliber afferent fibers. BBB scores were not improved by BWSTT. Untrained contused rats that received a transection exhibited a decrease in kinematic parameters immediately after the transection; in contrast, trained contused rats did not show an immediate decrease in kinematic parameters after transection. This suggests that BWSTT with spared descending pathways leads to neuroplasticity at the lumbar spinal level that is capable of maintaining locomotor activity. Discontinuing training after the transection in the trained contused rats abolished the improved kinematics within 2 weeks and led to a reversal of the improved H-reflex response, increased muscle atrophy, and an increase in primary afferent fiber sprouting. Thus continued training may be required for maintenance of the recovery. Transected animals had no effect of BWSTT, indicating that in the absence of spared pathways this training paradigm did not improve function.
    Journal of neurotrauma 05/2011; 28(12):2405-16. · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    Neurosurgery 04/2011; 68(4):N14-5. · 2.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Traumatic insults to the spinal cord induce both immediate mechanical damage and subsequent tissue degeneration leading to a substantial physiological, biochemical, and functional reorganization of the spinal cord. Various spinal cord injury (SCI) models have shown the adaptive potential of the spinal cord and its limitations in the case of total or partial absence of supraspinal influence. Meaningful recovery of function after SCI will most likely result from a combination of therapeutic strategies, including neural tissue transplants, exogenous neurotrophic factors, elimination of inhibitory molecules, functional sensorimotor training, and/or electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles or spinal circuits. Peripheral nerve grafts provide a growth-permissive substratum and local neurotrophic factors to enhance the regenerative effort of axotomized neurons when grafted into the site of injury. Regenerating axons can be directed via the peripheral nerve graft toward an appropriate target, but they fail to extend beyond the distal graft-host interface because of the deposition of growth inhibitors at the site of SCI. One method to facilitate the emergence of axons from a graft into the spinal cord is to digest the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans that are associated with a glial scar. Importantly, regenerating axons that do exit the graft are capable of forming functional synaptic contacts. These results have been demonstrated in acute injury models in rats and cats and after a chronic injury in rats and have important implications for our continuing efforts to promote structural and functional repair after SCI.
    Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics 03/2011; 8(2):294-303. · 5.38 Impact Factor
  • Anita Singh, Marion Murray, John D Houle
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    ABSTRACT: Ambulating on stairs is an important aspect of daily activities for many individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI), and little is known about the effect of training for this specific task. The goal of this study was to determine whether staircase ascent training enhances motor recovery in animals with contusion injury. Rats received a midthoracic contusion lesion of moderate severity and were randomly divided into 2 groups, with one group receiving staircase ascent training for up to 8 weeks and the other receiving no training. To assess the direct effect of training, a task-specific staircase climbing test was performed. Open field test (BBB) and gait analysis (CatWalk) assessed overground recovery, and a grid test was used to assess improvement in sensorimotor tasks. Changes in muscle mass of the forelimb and hindlimb muscles were also measured, and the extent of spared white matter was determined for lesion verification and anatomical correlations. Staircase training improved the task-specific performance of ascent. Gait parameters, including base of support, stride length, regularity index (RI), and step sequence, also improved. Overground locomotion and the grid test, both showed a trend of improved performance. Finally, hindlimb muscle mass was maintained with training. Staircase ascent training after incomplete SCI has beneficial effects on task-specific as well as nonspecific motor and sensorimotor activities.
    Neurorehabilitation and neural repair 01/2011; 25(1):24-34. · 4.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There are two major aspects to a spinal cord injury (SCI): an acute, primary mechanical trauma and a progressive phase of secondary tissue damage provoked by inflammation, excitotoxicity, apoptosis, and demyelination. MicroRNAs (miRs) are small, ~22 nucleotide, non-protein-coding RNAs that function at the post-transcriptional level to regulate gene expression. They have important roles in homeostatic processes such as cell proliferation and programmed cell death. In the injured rat spinal cord we performed an expression analysis of miRs and their downstream targets involved in apoptotic pathways and used post-injury cycling exercise to test for activity-dependent plasticity of miR expression. We show that SCI results in increased expression of miR Let-7a and miR16 while exercise leads to elevated levels of miR21 and decreased levels of miR15b. These changes in miR expression are correlated with changes in expression of their target genes: pro-apoptotic (decreased PTEN, PDCD4, and RAS mRNA) and anti-apoptotic (increased Bcl-2 mRNA) target genes. This is accompanied by a down-regulation of mRNA for caspase-7 and caspase-9 and reduced levels of caspase-7 protein. These results indicate possible beneficial effects of exercise through action on multiple miRs and their targets that contribute to the functional regulation of apoptosis after SCI.
    Experimental Neurology 11/2010; 226(1):200-6. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Activity-based therapies such as passive bicycling and step-training on a treadmill contribute to motor recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI), leading to a greater number of steps performed, improved gait kinematics, recovery of phase-dependent modulation of spinal reflexes, and prevention of decrease in muscle mass. Both tasks consist of alternating movements that rhythmically stretch and shorten hindlimb muscles. However, the paralyzed hindlimbs are passively moved by a motorized apparatus during bike-training, whereas locomotor movements during step-training are generated by spinal networks triggered by afferent feedback. Our objective was to compare the task-dependent effect of bike- and step-training after SCI on physiological measures of spinal cord plasticity in relation to changes in levels of neurotrophic factors. Thirty adult female Sprague-Dawley rats underwent complete spinal transection at a low thoracic level (T12). The rats were assigned to one of three groups: bike-training, step-training, or no training. The exercise regimen consisted of 15 min/d, 5 days/week, for 4 weeks, beginning 5 days after SCI. During a terminal experiment, H-reflexes were recorded from interosseus foot muscles following stimulation of the tibial nerve at 0.3, 5, or 10 Hz. The animals were sacrificed and the spinal cords were harvested for Western blot analysis of the expression of neurotrophic factors in the lumbar spinal cord. We provide evidence that bike- and step-training significantly increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and NT-4 in the lumbar enlargement of SCI rats, whereas only step-training increased glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) levels. An increase in neurotrophic factor protein levels that positively correlated with the recovery of H-reflex frequency-dependent depression suggests a role for neurotrophic factors in reflex normalization.
    Journal of neurotrauma 11/2010; 28(2):299-309. · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peripheral nerve grafts (PNG) into the rat spinal cord support axon regeneration after acute or chronic injury, with synaptic reconnection across the lesion site and some level of behavioral recovery. Here, we grafted a peripheral nerve into the injured spinal cord of cats as a preclinical treatment approach to promote regeneration for eventual translational use. Adult female cats received a partial hemisection lesion at the cervical level (C7) and immediate apposition of an autologous tibial nerve segment to the lesion site. Five weeks later, a dorsal quadrant lesion was performed caudally (T1), the lesion site treated with chondroitinase ABC 2 days later to digest growth inhibiting extracellular matrix molecules, and the distal end of the PNG apposed to the injury site. After 4-20 weeks, the grafts survived in 10/12 animals with several thousand myelinated axons present in each graft. The distal end of 9/10 grafts was well apposed to the spinal cord and numerous axons extended beyond the lesion site. Intraspinal stimulation evoked compound action potentials in the graft with an appropriate latency illustrating normal axonal conduction of the regenerated axons. Although stimulation of the PNG failed to elicit responses in the spinal cord distal to the lesion site, the presence of c-Fos immunoreactive neurons close to the distal apposition site indicates that regenerated axons formed functional synapses with host neurons. This study demonstrates the successful application of a nerve grafting approach to promote regeneration after spinal cord injury in a non-rodent, large animal model.
    Experimental Neurology 09/2010; 225(1):173-82. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Secondary degeneration leads to an expansion of the initial tissue damage sustained during a spinal cord injury (SCI). Dampening the cellular inflammatory response that contributes to this progressive tissue damage is one possible strategy for neuroprotection after acute SCI. We initially examined whether treatment with a PEGylated form of rat interferon-beta (IFN-beta) would modulate the expression of several markers of inflammation and neuroprotection at the site of a unilateral cervical level 5 contusion injury. Adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were injured using the Infinite Horizon Impactor at a force of 200 kdyn (equivalent to a severe injury) and a mean displacement of 1600-1800 mum. A single dose (5x10(6) units) of PEGylated IFN-beta or vehicle was administered 30 min following SCI. Here we demonstrate temporal changes in pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine levels and the expression of heat shock proteins and iNOS (involved in neuroprotection) at the lesion epicenter and one segment caudally after SCI and PEG IFN-beta treatment. The results suggested a potential therapeutic treatment strategy for modulation of secondary damage after acute SCI. Therefore, we examined whether acute treatment with PEG IFN-beta would improve forelimb function alone or when combined with forced exercise (Ex). Animals began the Ex paradigm 5 days post SCI and continued for 5 days/week over 8 weeks. Locomotion (forelimb locomotor scale [FLS], hindlimb BBB, and TreadScan) and sensorimotor function (grid walking) was tested weekly. Additional outcome measures included lesion size and glial cell reactivity. Significant FLS improvements occurred at 1 week post SCI in the PEGylated IFN-beta-treated group but not at any other time point or with any other treatment approaches. These results suggest that this acute neuroprotective treatment strategy does not translate into long term behavioral recovery even when combined with forced exercise.
    Experimental Neurology 06/2010; 223(2):439-51. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) derived from bone marrow are ideal transplants for a variety of CNS disorders and appear to support recovery after injury by secreting therapeutic factors. There is considerable variability in the secretion profile of MSC derived from different donors and it is known that MSC secretion changes in response to inflammatory stimuli, but no comprehensive analysis has been performed to address these issues. Here we show that MSC from seven donors secrete chemokines and cytokines in variable ranges, with some factors showing high variability. Treatment of cultured MSC with pro-inflammatory cytokines or tissue extracts from injured spinal cord resulted in up-regulation of selected cytokines, whereas treatment with an anti-inflammatory cytokine had little effect, indicating that the secretion profile is tightly regulated by environmental challenges. Patterns of up-regulated cytokines were similar in MSC from different donors suggesting a comparable response to inflammatory stimuli.
    Cytokine 02/2010; 50(3):317-21. · 2.52 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
265.77 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2014
    • Drexel University College of Medicine
      • Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1988–2003
    • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
      Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
    • University of Florida
      • College of Medicine
      Gainesville, FL, United States
  • 1998–2000
    • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
      • Department of Geriatrics
      Little Rock, AR, United States
  • 1997
    • McMaster University
      Hamilton, Ontario, Canada