More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Axons Regrow Following Spinal Cord Injury in Mice When Scarring Is Prevented

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jan 23 - Prevention of fibroblastic infiltration and scar formation permits the regrowth of axons following transection of the spinal cord in mice, report investigators with the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia.

Dr. Ellen Heber-Katz and colleagues performed spinal transection in the intervertebral space that included the dura mater and the main vessels in 13 mice. In a second group of 18 mice, they transected the spinal cord while sparing the dura mater and the dorsal and ventral spinal veins.

As reported in the Journal of Neuroscience Research for February 1, the dura was protected in the latter group of mice by creation of a 0.5 mm longitudinal incision in the dura through which a scalpel was inserted to transect the cord.

Within 3 weeks, more than half of the mice with intact dura could coordinate the movement of their hindlimbs with their forelimbs and support their body weight through gait. Only one mouse with cut dura achieved a similar level of recovery.

Cutting the dura resulted in marked fibroblast infiltration that caused a physical gap in the cord and collagen fibers deposited perpendicular to the axes of the cord. Very little scarring was observed in the mice with intact dura, and what little collagen was present tended to be disorganized.

The authors observed that the area of infiltrate was indirectly correlated to the final motor scores obtained. The animal with cut dura that recovered had the smallest area of infiltrate in that group.

Co-author Dr. Alexander Seitz believes that similar results could be observed in humans under the right circumstances. He told Reuters Health, "In cases where people have recovered from spinal cord injury, it has been attributed to spared axons. But who knows? There may have been some regeneration going on."

In an interview, Dr. Heber-Katz said that her team's next step would involve testing compounds that can block infiltration and scarring. "We are doing some experiments using proteases," she said, "but those are just getting started."

J Neurosci Res 2002;67:00-00.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd