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Recovery of Locomotor Function with Combinatory Drug Treatments Designed to Synergistically Activate Specific Neuronal Networks

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Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition generally leading to a permanent and irreversible loss of sensory and motor functions. We have identified recently a number of serotonergic, adrenergic and dopaminergic receptor agonists or precursors that can acutely elicit some motor and locomotor-like movements in completely spinal cordtransected (thoracic level) animals. However, only partial central network-activating effects were found with single molecules since none administered separately could elicit weight-bearing and functional stepping movements in Tx animals. In turn, a recent breakthrough revealed that full spinal locomotor network-activating effects may be induced with synergistic drug combinations. Indeed, specific cocktails comprising some of these agonists and precursors were found, indeed, to powerfully generate weight-bearing stepping with plantar foot placement in untrained, non-assisted and non-sensorystimulated Tx mice. This significant finding provides clear evidence suggesting that combinatorial approaches based on drug-drug synergistic interactions may constitute innovative solutions for the design and development of novel pharmacological therapies in the field of SCI and related neurological disorders.
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Keywords: CPG; L-DOPA; SCI; Spinal cord; central pattern generator; dopamine; locomotion; mice; serotonin

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laval University Medical Center (CHUL - CHUQ), Neuroscience Unit, RC-9800, 2705 Laurier Blvd, Quebec City, Quebec, G1V 4G2, Canada.

Publication date: 2009-04-01

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