[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Trauma to the spinal cord causes permanent disability to more than 180,000 people every year worldwide. The initial mechanical damage triggers a complex set of secondary events involving the neural, vascular, and immune systems that largely determine the functional outcome of the spinal cord injury (SCI). Cellular and biochemical mechanisms responsible for this secondary injury largely depend on activation and inactivation of specific gene programs. Recent studies indicate that microRNAs function as gene expression switches in key processes of the SCI. Microarray data from rodent contusion models reveal that SCI induces changes in the global microRNA expression patterns. Variations in microRNA abundance largely result from alterations in the expression of the cells at the damaged spinal cord. However, microRNA expression levels after SCI are also influenced by the infiltration of immune cells to the injury site and the death and migration of specific neural cells after injury. Evidences on the role of microRNAs in the SCI pathophysiology have come from different sources. Bioinformatic analysis of microarray data has been used to identify specific variations in microRNA expression underlying transcriptional changes in target genes, which are involved in key processes in the SCI. Direct evidences on the role of microRNAs in SCI are scarcer, although recent studies have identified several microRNAs (miR-21, miR-486, miR-20) involved in key mechanisms of the SCI such as cell death or astrogliosis, among others. From a clinical perspective, different evidences make clear that microRNAs can be potent therapeutic tools to manipulate cell state and molecular processes in order to enhance functional recovery. The present article reviews the actual knowledge on how injury affects microRNA expression and the meaning of these changes in the SCI pathophysiology, to finally explore the clinical potential of microRNAs in the SCI.
Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 01/2014; 8:53. · 4.47 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spinal cord injury (SCI) triggers a multitude of pathophysiological events that are tightly regulated by the expression levels of specific genes. Recent studies suggest that changes in gene expression following neural injury can result from the dysregulation of microRNAs, short non-coding RNA molecules that repress the translation of target mRNA. To understand the mechanisms underlying gene alterations following SCI, we analyzed the microRNA expression patterns at different time points following rat spinal cord injury.The microarray data reveal the induction of a specific microRNA expression pattern following moderate contusive SCI that is characterized by a marked increase in the number of down-regulated microRNAs, especially at 7 days after injury. MicroRNA downregulation is paralleled by mRNA upregulation, strongly suggesting that microRNAs regulate transcriptional changes following injury. Bioinformatic analyses indicate that changes in microRNA expression affect key processes in SCI physiopathology, including inflammation and apoptosis. MicroRNA expression changes appear to be influenced by an invasion of immune cells at the injury area and, more importantly, by changes in microRNA expression specific to spinal cord cells. Comparisons with previous data suggest that although microRNA expression patterns in the spinal cord are broadly similar among vertebrates, the results of studies assessing SCI are much less congruent and may depend on injury severity. The results of the present study demonstrate that moderate spinal cord injury induces an extended microRNA downregulation paralleled by an increase in mRNA expression that affects key processes in the pathophysiology of this injury.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e34534. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nervous system injuries are a major cause of impairment in the human society. Up to now, clinical approaches have failed to adequately restore function following nervous system damage. The regenerative cycle of deer antlers may provide basic information on mechanisms underlying nervous system regeneration. The present contribution reviews the actual knowledge on the antler innervation and the factors responsible for its regeneration and fast growth. Growing antlers are profusely innervated by sensory fibers from the trigeminal nerve, which regenerate every year reaching elongation rates up to 2 cm a day. Antler nerves grow through the velvet in close association to blood vessels. This environment is rich in growth promoting molecules capable of inducing and guiding neurite outgrowth of rat sensory neurons in vitro. Conversely, endocrine regulation failed to show effects on neurite outgrowth in vitro, in spite of including hormones of known promoting effects on axon growth. Additional studies are needed to analyze unexplored factors promoting on growth in antlers such as electric potentials or mechanical stretch, as well as on the survival of antler innervating neurons.
Frontiers in Bioscience 01/2012; 17:1389-401. · 3.29 Impact Factor