Neural regeneration research

Neural progenitor cells but not astrocytes respond distally to thoracic spinal cord injury in rat models.

PMID 29239336


Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a detrimental condition that causes loss of sensory and motor function in an individual. Many complex secondary injury cascades occur after SCI and they offer great potential for therapeutic targeting. In this study, we investigated the response of endogenous neural progenitor cells, astrocytes, and microglia to a localized thoracic SCI throughout the neuroaxis. Twenty-five adult female Sprague-Dawley rats underwent mild-contusion thoracic SCI (n = 9), sham surgery (n = 8), or no surgery (n = 8). Spinal cord and brain tissues were fixed and cut at six regions of the neuroaxis. Immunohistochemistry showed increased reactivity of neural progenitor cell marker nestin in the central canal at all levels of the spinal cord. Increased reactivity of astrocyte-specific marker glial fibrillary acidic protein was found only at the lesion epicenter. The number of activated microglia was significantly increased at the lesion site, and activated microglia extended to the lumbar enlargement. Phagocytic microglia and macrophages were significantly increased only at the lesion site. There were no changes in nestin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, microglia and macrophage response in the third ventricle of rats subjected to mild-contusion thoracic SCI compared to the sham surgery or no surgery. These findings indicate that neural progenitor cells, astrocytes and microglia respond differently to a localized SCI, presumably due to differences in inflammatory signaling. These different cellular responses may have implications in the way that neural progenitor cells can be manipulated for neuroregeneration after SCI. This needs to be further investigated.