Project description:BACKGROUND: Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the best available model of multiple sclerosis, can be induced in different animal strains using immunization with central nervous system antigens. EAE is associated with inflammation and demyelination of the nervous system. Micro-array can be used to investigate gene expression and biological pathways that are altered during disease. There are few studies of the changes in gene expression in EAE, and these have mostly been done in a chronic mouse EAE model. EAE induced in the Lewis with myelin basic protein (MBP-EAE) is well characterised, making it an ideal candidate for the analysis of gene expression in this disease model. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: MBP-EAE was induced in female Lewis rats by inoculation with MBP and adjuvants. Total RNA was extracted from the spinal cords and used for micro-array analysis using AffimetrixGeneChip Rat Exon 1.0 ST Arrays. Gene expression in the spinal cords was compared between healthy female rats and female rats with MBP-EAE. Gene expression in the spinal cord of rats with MBP-EAE differed from that in the spinal cord of normal rats, and there was regulation of pathways involved with immune function and nervous system function. For selected genes the change in expression was confirmed with real-time PCR. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: EAE leads to modulation of gene expression in the spinal cord. We have identified the genes that are most significantly regulated in MBP-EAE in the Lewis rat and produced a profile of gene expression in the spinal cord at the peak of disease.
Project description:Mutations of the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene are linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an invariably fatal neurological condition involving cortico-spinal degeneration. Mechanical injury can also determine spinal cord degeneration and act as a risk factor for the development of ALS.We have performed a comparative ontological analysis of the gene expression profiles of thoracic cord samples from rats carrying the G93A SOD1 gene mutation and from wild-type littermates subjected to mechanical compression of the spinal cord. Common molecular responses and gene expression changes unique to each experimental paradigm were evaluated against the functional development of each animal model. Gene Ontology categories crucial to protein folding, extracellular matrix and axonal formation underwent early activation in both experimental paradigms, but decreased significantly in the spinal cord from animals recovering from injury after 7 days and from the G93A SOD1 mutant rats at end-stage disease. Functional improvement after compression coincided with a massive up-regulation of growth-promoting gene categories including factors involved in angiogenesis and transcription, overcoming the more transitory surge of pro-apoptotic components and cell-cycle genes. The cord from G93A SOD1 mutants showed persistent over-expression of apoptotic and stress molecules with fewer neurorestorative signals, while functional deterioration was ongoing.this study illustrates how cytoskeletal protein metabolism is central to trauma and genetically-induced spinal cord degeneration and elucidates the main molecular events accompanying functional recovery or decline in two different animal models of spinal cord degeneration.
Project description:Following spinal cord injury in mammals, maladaptive inflammation, and matrix deposition drive tissue scarring and permanent loss of function. In contrast, axolotls regenerate their spinal cord after severe injury fully and without scarring. To explore previously unappreciated molecules and pathways that drive tissue responses after spinal cord injury, we performed a 4-way intersection of rat and axolotl transcriptomics datasets and isolated shared genes with similar or differential expression at days 1, 3, and 7 after spinal cord injury in both species. Systems-wide differences and similarities between the two species are described in detail using public-domain computational tools and key differentially regulated genes are highlighted. Amongst persistent differential expression in matching neuronal genes (upregulated in axolotls but downregulated in rats) and nucleic acid metabolism genes (downregulated in axolotls but upregulated in rats), we found multiple extracellular matrix genes that were upregulated in both species after spinal cord injury and all time-points (days 1, 3, and 7), indicating the importance of extracellular matrix remodeling in wound healing. Moreover, the archetypal transcription factor SP1, which was consistently upregulated in rats but was unchanged in axolotls, was predicted as a potential transcriptional regulator of classic inflammatory response genes in rats most of which were not regulated in regenerating axolotls. This analysis offers an extensive comparative platform between a non-regenerating mammal and a regenerating urodele after spinal cord injury. To better understand regeneration vs. scarring mechanisms it is important to understand consistent molecular differences as well as similarities after experimental spinal cord injury.
Project description:Stimulation of the spinal cord has been shown to have great potential for improving function after motor deficits caused by injury or pathological conditions. Using a wide range of animal models, many studies have shown that stimulation applied to the neural networks intrinsic to the spinal cord can result in a dramatic improvement of motor ability, even allowing an animal to step and stand after a complete spinal cord transection. Clinical use of this technology, however, has been slow to develop due to the invasive nature of the implantation procedures, the lack of versatility in conventional stimulation technology, and the difficulty of ascertaining specific sites of stimulation that would provide optimal amelioration of the motor deficits. Moreover, the development of tools available to control precise stimulation chronically via biocompatible electrodes has been limited. In this paper, we outline the development of this technology and its use in the spinal rat model, demonstrating the ability to identify and stimulate specific sites of the spinal cord to produce discrete motor behaviors in spinal rats using this array.We have designed a chronically implantable, rapidly switchable, high-density platinum based multi-electrode array that can be used to stimulate at 1-100 Hz and 1-10 V in both monopolar and bipolar configurations to examine the electrophysiological and behavioral effects of spinal cord epidural stimulation in complete spinal cord transected rats.In this paper, we have demonstrated the effectiveness of using high-resolution stimulation parameters in the context of improving motor recovery after a spinal cord injury. We observed that rats whose hindlimbs were paralyzed can stand and step when specific sets of electrodes of the array are stimulated tonically (40 Hz). Distinct patterns of stepping and standing were produced by stimulation of different combinations of electrodes on the array located at specific spinal cord levels and by specific stimulation parameters, i.e., stimulation frequency and intensity, and cathode/anode orientation. The array also was used to assess functional connectivity between the cord dorsum to interneuronal circuits and specific motor pools via evoked potentials induced at 1 Hz stimulation in the absence of any anesthesia.Therefore the high density electrode array allows high spatial resolution and the ability to selectively activate different neural pathways within the lumbosacral region of the spinal cord to facilitate standing and stepping in adult spinal rats and provides the capability to evoke motor potentials and thus a means for assessing connectivity between sensory circuits and specific motor pools and muscles.
Project description:Spinal cord stimulation has become an important modality in pain treatment especially for neuropathic pain conditions refractory to pharmacotherapy. However, the molecular control of inhibitory and excitatory mechanisms observed after spinal cord stimulation are poorly understood. Here, we used RNA-seq to identify differences in the expression of genes and gene networks in spinal cord tissue from nerve-injured rats with and without repetitive conventional spinal cord stimulation treatment. Five weeks after chronic constrictive injury to the left sciatic nerve, male and female rats were randomized to receive repetitive spinal cord stimulation or no treatment. Rats receiving spinal cord stimulation underwent epidural placement of a miniature stimulating electrode and received seven sessions of spinal cord stimulation (50 Hz, 80% motor threshold, 0.2 ms, constant current bipolar stimulation, 120 min/session) over four consecutive days. Within 2 h after the last spinal cord stimulation treatment, the L4-L6 spinal segments ipsilateral to the side of nerve injury were harvested and used to generate libraries for RNA-seq. Our RNA-seq data suggest further increases of many existing upregulated immune responses in chronic constrictive injury rats after repetitive spinal cord stimulation, including transcription of cell surface receptors and activation of non-neuronal cells. We also demonstrate that repetitive spinal cord stimulation represses transcription of several key synaptic signaling genes that encode scaffold proteins in the post-synaptic density. Our transcriptional studies suggest a potential relationship between specific genes and the therapeutic effects observed in patients undergoing conventional spinal cord stimulation after nerve injury. Furthermore, our results may help identify new therapeutic targets for improving the efficacy of conventional spinal cord stimulation and other chronic pain treatments.
Project description:A number of different rodent experimental models of spinal cord injury have been used in an attempt to model the pathophysiology of human spinal cord injury. As a result, interlaboratory comparisons of the outcome measures can be difficult. Further complicating interexperiment comparisons is the fact that the rodent response to different experimental models is strain-dependent. Moreover, the literature is abundant with examples in which the same injury model and strain result in divergent functional outcomes. The objective of this research was to determine whether substrain differences influence functional outcome in experimental spinal cord injury. We induced mild contusion spinal cord injuries in three substrains of Sprague-Dawley rats purchased from three different European breeders (Scanbur, Charles River, and Harlan) and evaluated the impact of injury on spontaneous locomotor function, hypersensitivity to mechanical stimulation, and bladder function. We found that Harlan rats regained significantly more hindlimb function than Charles River and Scanbur rats. We also observed substrain differences in the recovery of the ability to empty the bladder and development of hypersensitivity to mechanical stimulation. The Harlan substrain did not show any signs of hypersensitivity in contrast to the Scanbur and Charles River substrains, which both showed transient reduction in paw withdrawal thresholds. Lastly, we found histological differences possibly explaining the observed behavioral differences. We conclude that in spite of being the same strain, there might be genetic differences that can influence outcome measures in experimental studies of spinal cord injury of Sprague-Dawley rats from different vendors.
Project description:The immune system is involved in the development of neuropathic pain. In particular, the infiltration of T-lymphocytes into the spinal cord following peripheral nerve injury has been described as a contributor to sensory hypersensitivity. We used the spared nerve injury (SNI) model of neuropathic pain in Sprague Dawley adult male rats to assess proliferation, and/or protein/gene expression levels for microglia (Iba1), T-lymphocytes (CD2) and cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CD8). In the dorsal horn ipsilateral to SNI, Iba1 and BrdU stainings revealed microglial reactivity and proliferation, respectively, with different durations. Iba1 expression peaked at D4 and D7 at the mRNA and protein level, respectively, and was long-lasting. Proliferation occurred almost exclusively in Iba1 positive cells and peaked at D2. Gene expression observation by RT-qPCR array suggested that T-lymphocytes attracting chemokines were upregulated after SNI in rat spinal cord but only a few CD2/CD8 positive cells were found. A pronounced infiltration of CD2/CD8 positive T-cells was seen in the spinal cord injury (SCI) model used as a positive control for lymphocyte infiltration. Under these experimental conditions, we show early and long-lasting microglia reactivity in the spinal cord after SNI, but no lymphocyte infiltration was found.
Project description:We investigated whether imatinib (Gleevec®, Novartis), a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, could improve functional outcome in experimental spinal cord injury. Rats subjected to contusion spinal cord injury were treated orally with imatinib for 5 days beginning 30 minutes after injury. We found that imatinib significantly enhanced blood-spinal cord-barrier integrity, hindlimb locomotor function, sensorimotor integration, and bladder function, as well as attenuated astrogliosis and deposition of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, and increased tissue preservation. These improvements were associated with enhanced vascular integrity and reduced inflammation. Our results show that imatinib improves recovery in spinal cord injury by preserving axons and other spinal cord tissue components. The rapid time course of these beneficial effects suggests that the effects of imatinib are neuroprotective rather than neurorestorative. The positive effects on experimental spinal cord injury, obtained by oral delivery of a clinically used drug, makes imatinib an interesting candidate drug for clinical trials in spinal cord injury.
Project description:Mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is an intracellular kinase complex that regulates energy homeostasis and transcription. Modulation of mTORC1 has proven beneficial in experimental spinal cord injury, making this molecular target a candidate for therapeutic intervention in spinal cord injury. However, both inactivation and activation of mTORC1 have been reported beneficial for recovery. To obtain a more complete picture of mTORC1 activity, we aimed to characterize the spatiotemporal activation pattern of mTORC1 and identify activation in particular cell types after contusion spinal cord injury in rats. To be able to provide a spatial characterization of mTORC1 activation, we monitored activation of downstream target S6. We found robust mTORC1 activation both at the site of injury and in spinal segments rostral and caudal to the injury. There was constitutive mTORC1 activation in neurons that was biphasically reduced caudally after injury. We found biphasic mTORC1 activation in glial cells, primarily activated microglia/macrophages. Furthermore, we found mTORC1 activation in proliferating cells, suggesting this may be a function affected by mTORC1 modulation. Our results reveal potential windows of opportunity for therapeutic interference with mTORC1 signaling and immune cells as targets for inhibition of mTORC1 in spinal cord injury.
Project description:Recent evidence has demonstrated that remote responses in the brain, as well as local responses in the injured spinal cord, can be induced after spinal cord injury (SCI). Intravenous infusion of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has been shown to provide functional improvements in SCI through local therapeutic mechanisms that provide neuroprotection, stabilization of the blood-spinal cord barrier, remyelination, and axonal sprouting. In the present study, we examined the brain response that might be associated with the functional improvements induced by the infused MSCs after SCI. Genome-wide RNA profiling was performed in the motor cortex of SCI rats at 3 days post-MSC or vehicle infusion. Then, quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) data revealed that the "behaviorally-associated differentially expressed genes (DEGs)" were identified by the Pearson's correlation analysis with the behavioral function, suggesting that the "behaviorally-associated DEGs" may be related to the functional recovery after systemic infusion of MSCs in SCI. These results suggested that the infused MSCs alter the gene expression signature in the brain and that these expression changes may contribute to the improved function in SCI.