Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

With the right rehabilitation, paralyzed rats learn to grip again

13.06.2014

After a large stroke, motor skills barely improve, even with rehabilitation.

An experiment conducted on rats demonstrates that a course of therapy combining the stimulation of nerve fiber growth with drugs and motor training can be successful. The key, however, is the correct sequence: Paralyzed animals only make an almost complete recovery if the training is delayed until after the growth promoting drugs have been administered, as researchers from the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich and the University of Heidelberg reveal.


The red trajectories show a rats movements after stroke. Suffering from motor deficits, the rat misses the sugar pellet. After rehabilitation the grasps are smooth and distinct (green trajectories). Tabea Kraus


Grasping of a rat after stroke: The upper sequence depicts disturbed motor function after stroke. The pictures below show restored grasping kinematics due to immunotherapy and rehabilitation. Tabea Kraus

Only if the timing, dosage and kind of rehabilitation are right can motor functions make an almost full recovery after a large stroke. Rats that were paralyzed down one side by a stroke almost managed to regain their motor functions fully if they were given the ideal combination of rehabilitative training and substances that boosted the growth of nerve fibers.

Anatomical studies confirmed the importance of the right rehabilitation schedule: Depending on the therapeutic design, different patterns of new nerve fibers that sprouted into the cervical spinal cord from the healthy part of the brain and thus aid functional recovery to varying degrees were apparent. The study conducted by an interdisciplinary team headed by Professor Martin Schwab from the Brain Research Institute at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich’s Neuroscience Center is another milestone in research on the repair of brain and spinal cord injuries.

“This new rehabilitative approach at least triggered an astonishing recovery of the motor skills in rats, which may become important for the treatment of stroke patients in the future,” says first author Anna-Sophia Wahl. At present, patients have to deal with often severe motor-function, language and vision problems, and their quality of life is often heavily affected.

Allow nerves to grow first, then train

On the one hand, the treatment of rats after a stroke involves specific immune therapy, where so-called Nogo proteins are blocked with antibodies. These proteins in the tissue around the nerve fibers inhibit nerve-fiber growth. If they are blocked, nerve fibers begin to sprout in the injured sections of the brain and spinal cord and relay nerve impulses again. On the other hand, the stroke animals, whose front legs were paralyzed, underwent physical training – namely, gripping food pellets. All the rats received antibody treatment first to boost nerve-fiber growth and – either at the same time or only afterwards – motor training.

The results are surprising: The animals that began their training later regained a remarkable 85 percent of their original motor skills. For the rats that were trained straight after the stroke in parallel with the growth-enhancing antibodies, however, it was a different story: At 15 percent, their physical performance in the grip test remained very low.

Meticulous design very promising

The researchers consider timing a crucial factor for the success of the rehabilitation: An early application of growth stimulators – such as antibodies against the protein Nogo-A – triggers an increased sprouting and growth of nerve fibers. The subsequent training is essential to sift out and stabilize the key neural circuits for the recovery of the motor functions. For instance, an automatic, computer-based analysis of the anatomical data from the imaging revealed that new fibers in the spinal cord sprouted in another pattern depending on the course of treatment. By reversibly deactivating the new nerve fibers that grow, the neurobiologists were ultimately able to demonstrate for the first time that a group of these fibers is essential for the recovery of the motor function observed: Nerve fibers that grew into the spinal cord from the intact front half of the brain – changing sides – can reconnect the spinal cord circuits of the rats’ paralyzed limbs to the brain, enabling the animals to grip again.

“Our study reveals how important a meticulous therapeutic design is for the most successful rehabilitation possible,” sums up study head Martin Schwab. “The brain has enormous potential for the reorganization and reestablishment of its functions. With the right therapies at the right time, this can be increased in a targeted fashion.”

A successful interdisciplinary approach

The study was a collaborative project between biologists, physicians and computer scientists. The interdisciplinary team headed by Professor Martin Schwab from UZH’s Brain Research Institute and UZH and ETH Zurich’s Neuroscience Center included Professor Fritjof Helmchen’s group within the same institute and, at the University of Heidelberg, Professor Björn Ommer’s group at the Heidelberg Collaboratory for Image Processsing and the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing.

Literature:
Wahl, A.S., Omlor, W., Rubio, J.C., Chen, J.L., Zheng, H., Schröter, A., Gullo, M., Weinmann, O., Kobayashi, K., Helmchen, F., Ommer, B., Schwab, M.E. Asynchronous therapy restores motor control by rewiring of the rat corticospinal tract after stroke. Science, June 13, 2014. doi: 10.1126/science.1253050

Prof. Martin E. Schwab
Brain Research Institute
University of Zurich

Neuroscience Center Zurich of ETH and University of Zurich
Winterthurerstr. 190
8057 Zurich
Phone: +41 44 635 3330
E-mail: schwab@hifo.uzh.ch


Dr. Anna-Sophia Wahl
Brain Research Institute
University of Zurich

Neuroscience Center Zurich of ETH and University of Zurich
Winterthurerstr. 190
8057 Zurich
Phone: +41 44 635 3228
E-mail: wahl@hifo.uzh.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mediadesk.uzh.ch

Bettina Jakob | Universität Zürich

Further reports about: Brain ETH Neuroscience animals drugs factor fibers proteins rats spinal stroke therapeutic therapy

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>