Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Research uncovers extensive natural recovery after spinal cord injury

A study led by researchers in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine shows unexpected and extensive natural recovery after spinal cord injury in primates. The findings, to be published November 14 in the advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience, may one day lead to the development of new treatments for patients with spinal cord injuries.

While regeneration after severe brain and spinal cord injury is limited, milder injuries are often followed by good functional recovery. To investigate how this occurs, UC San Diego and VA Medical Center San Diego researchers studied adult rhesus monkeys. The team was surprised to see that connections between circuits in the spinal cord re-grew spontaneously and extensively, restoring fully 60% of the connections 24 weeks after a mild spinal cord injury.

"The number of connections in spinal cord circuits drops by 80 percent immediately after the injury," said Ephron Rosenzweig, PhD, assistant project scientist in UCSD Department of Neurosciences. "But new growth sprouting from spared axons – the long fibers extending from the brain cells, or neurons, which carry signals to other neurons in the central nervous system – restored more than half of the original number of connections." He added that this was particularly surprising since the phenomenon does not appear in rodents – the traditional study model.

The research was led by Rosenzweig and Gregoire Courtine of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Senior study director was Mark H. Tuszynski, MD, PhD, professor of neurosciences and director of the Center for Neural Repair at UC San Diego, and neurologist at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Health System.

It was not previously known that an injured spinal cord could naturally restore such a high proportion of connections. More profoundly, the spontaneous recovery was accompanied by extensive recovery of movement on the affected side of the body. Tuszynski said the team is now investigating how the nervous system is able to generate so much natural growth after injury. This knowledge could lead to development of drugs or genes that could transmit high-growth signals to spinal cord damage sites after more severe spinal cord injury.

The work highlights an important role for primate models in translating basic scientific research into practical, therapeutic treatments for people. The spinal cords of humans and other primates are different from rodents, both in overall anatomy and in specific functions. For example, the corticospinal tract – a collection of nerve cell fibers linking the cerebral cortex of the brain and the spinal cord – is much more important for muscle movement in primates than in rats.

"With similar injuries, rodents show much less regrowth and recovery of limb function," said Rosenzweig. The challenge now is to determine what exactly is prompting neuronal axons to sprout new connections, leading to recovered movement. That has exciting clinical relevance, Rosenzweig said, because discoveries resulting from further research could be applied to patients with severe injury to their central nervous system.

Additional contributors to the study include John H. Brock and Darren M. Miller, UCSD Department of Neurosciences; Gregoire Courtine, UCLA and University of Zurich; Devin L. Jindrich, Roland R. Roy, Leif A. Havton and V. Reggie Edgerton, UCLA; Adam R. Ferguson, Yvette S. Nout, Michael S. Beattie, and Jacqueline C. Bresnahan, UC Davis; and Sarah C. Strand, UC San Francisco.

This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration, California Roman-Reed funds, the Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust, and the Dr.Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation.

Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>