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Schwann Cell Transplantation Improves Reticulospinal Axon Growth and Forelimb Strength After Severe Cervical Spinal Cord Contusion

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Abstract:

Schwann cell (SC) implantation alone has been shown to promote the growth of propriospinal and sensory axons, but not long-tract descending axons, after thoracic spinal cord injury (SCI). In the current study, we examined if an axotomy close to the cell body of origin (so as to enhance the intrinsic growth response) could permit supraspinal axons to grow onto SC grafts. Adult female Fischer rats received a severe (C5) cervical contusion (1.1 mm displacement, 3 KDyn). At 1 week postinjury, 2 million SCs ex vivo transduced with lentiviral vector encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) were implanted within media into the injury epicenter; injury-only animals served as controls. Animals were tested weekly using the BBB score for 7 weeks postimplantation and received at end point tests for upper body strength: self-supported forelimb hanging, forearm grip force, and the incline plane. Following behavioral assessment, animals were anterogradely traced bilaterally from the reticular formation using BDA-Texas Red. Stereological quantification revealed a twofold increase in the numbers of preserved NeuN+ neurons rostral and caudal to the injury/graft site in SC implanted animals, corroborating previous reports of their neuroprotective efficacy. Examination of labeled reticulospinal axon growth revealed that while rarely an axon was present within the lesion site of injury-only controls, numerous reticulospinal axons had penetrated the SC implant/lesion milieu. This has not been observed following implantation of SCs alone into the injured thoracic spinal cord. Significant behavioral improvements over injury-only controls in upper limb strength, including an enhanced grip strength (a 296% increase) and an increased self-supported forelimb hanging, accompanied SC-mediated neuroprotection and reticulospinal axon growth. The current study further supports the neuroprotective efficacy of SC implants after SCI and demonstrates that SCs alone are capable of supporting modest supraspinal axon growth when the site of axon injury is closer to the cell body of the axotomized neuron.

Keywords: Axon regeneration; Axotomy; Cell body response; Intrinsic; Neuron; Neuroprotection; Supraspinal

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3727/000000007783464768

Affiliations: 1: The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA, †The Neuroscience Program, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA 2: The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA, The Neuroscience Program, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA 3: Department of Neurosurgery, Uijongbu St. Mary's Hospital, Catholic University Medical College, Seoul, South Korea 4: The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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