PloS one

Down-regulation of KCC2 expression and phosphorylation in motoneurons, and increases the number of in primary afferent projections to motoneurons in mice with post-stroke spasticity.

PMID 25546454


Spasticity obstructs motor function recovery post-stroke, and has been reported to occur in spinal cord injury and electrophysiological studies. The purpose of the present study was to assess spinal cord circuit spasticity in post-stroke mice. At 3, 7, 21, and 42 d after photothrombotic ischemic cortical injury in C57BL/6J mice, we observed decreased rate-dependent depression (RDD) of the Hoffmann reflex (H reflex) in the affected forelimb of mice compared with the limbs of sham mice and the non-affected forelimb. This finding suggests a hyper-excitable stretch reflex in the affected forelimb. We then performed immunohistochemical and western blot analyses to examine the expression of the potassium-chloride cotransporter 2 (KCC2) and phosphorylation of the KCC2 serine residue, 940 (S940), since this is the main chloride extruder that affects neuronal excitability. We also performed immunohistochemical analyses on the number of vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (vGluT1)-positive boutons to count the number of Ia afferent fibers that connect to motoneurons. Western bolts revealed that, compared with sham mice, experimental mice had significantly reduced KCC2 expression at 7 d post-stroke, and dephosphorylated S940 at 3 and 7 d post-stroke in motoneuron plasma membranes. We also observed a lower density of KCC2-positive areas in the plasma membrane of motoneurons at 3 and 7 d post-stroke. However, western blot and immunohistochemical analyses revealed that there were no differences between groups 21 and 42 d post-stroke, respectively. In addition, at 7 and 42 d post-stroke, experimental mice exhibited a significant increase in vGluT1 boutons compared with sham mice. Our findings suggest that both the down-regulation of KCC2 and increases in Ia afferent fibers are involved in post-stroke spasticity.