Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

An in-depth look into spinal cord regeneration

29.12.2011
Scientists develop new methods for the study of spinal cord injury
After spinal cord injury nerve fibers do not regenerate by themselves; loss of neuronal function up to complete paralysis is the consequence.

When investigating new potential therapies, scientists are often confronted with an experimental problem: Neurons are embedded deep into the tissue of the spinal cord and thus difficult to access with microscopy methods. Scientists around Professor Frank Bradke, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), have now met this experimental challenge with the development of a new technology. In animal models, they treated the tissue of the spinal cord so that it became permeable to light.

Using this treatment, they were able to investigate the regeneration process under the microscope much faster and far more accurately than it was previously possible. The work was carried out during Bradke’s research period at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology (Martinsried) in collaboration with researchers from the Vienna University of Technology and is now published in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine. Since July 2011, Bradke has been at the DZNE in Bonn.

Neurons of the central nervous system are surrounded by a myelin sheath. This sheath protects the nerve cells, but it also prevents their regeneration after injury. What are the factors that hamper regeneration and what can be done to get neurons to nonetheless bridge the lesion gap? These questions are subject to many scientific studies worldwide. Because the spinal cord – even that of mice – is too thick and opaque to investigate it as a whole in the microscope, the tissue was, until now, cut into thin sections prior to analysis. This is not only tedious but also error-prone, because inaccuracies can occur during the assembly of the resulting partial data.

Bradke and his team have developed a method by which the spinal cord of the mouse can be studied as a whole. To this end, the tissue is treated so that it becomes permeable to light. The water content of the tissue is replaced by compounds that refract light in a manner similar to the lipids and proteins of the tissue, so that the light can easily penetrate into the tissue. The researchers combined their method for tissue treatment with advanced microscopy technologies, such as the ultra-microscopy, in which the tissue is illuminated with a strong laser beam from the side.

With their new method Bradke and his colleagues studied the regeneration of neuronal fibers in mice up to one year after the spinal cord was severed. They showed that the neurons of the spinal cord not only show some initial sprouts but also occasionally produce extensions that can overcome the lesion. Nerve cells in the spinal cord are therefore not quite as resistant to regeneration as previously assumed. In addition, Bradke and his colleagues investigated neurons that were stimulated to regenerate by a certain methodical procedure and found that they could trace their trajectories with unprecedented accuracy. In further experiments, the researchers aim to investigate therapeutic options for spinal cord regeneration in more detail.

The enormous advances in cell biology in recent decades can to a large extent be attributed to the development of new microscopy technologies and methods. The development of Bradke and his colleagues is another important step forward in this respect. Moreover, the method is not limited to investigations of the spinal cord. Also other tissues can be rendered more accessible for microscopy with this methodology. It is conceivable, for example, to use the new technology for analyzing the network structure of the brain. This would then also be a valuable tool in the study of neurodegenerative diseases.

Original publication:

Ali Ertürk, Christoph P Mauch, Farida Hellal, Friedrich Förstner, Tara Keck, Klaus Becker,

Nina Jährling, Heinz Steffens, Melanie Richter, Mark Hübener, Edgar Kramer, Frank Kirchhoff, Hans Ulrich Dodt & Frank Bradke. Three-dimensional imaging of the unsectioned adult spinal cord to assess axon regeneration and glial responses after injury. Nature Medicine, published online December 25, 2011. DOI: 10.1038/nm.2600

Contact information:

Dr. Katrin Weigmann
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Press- and Public Relations
Phone: + 49 (0) 228 43302-263
Mobile: 01735471350
Email: katrin.weigmann@dzne.de

Katrin Weigmann | idw
Further information:
http://www.dzne.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>