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 Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines
20.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

nachricht Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>