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 Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>