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FASEB J. 2006 Jun;20(8):1239-41. Epub 2006 Apr 24.

Delayed GM-CSF treatment stimulates axonal regeneration and functional recovery in paraplegic rats via an increased BDNF expression by endogenous macrophages.

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  • 1Research Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, Tour de Pathologie B36, 1étage, local 1/4A, CHU Sart-Tilman 4000 Liège, Belgium.


Macrophages (monocytes/microglia) could play a critical role in central nervous system repair. We have previously found a synchronism between the regression of spontaneous axonal regeneration and the deactivation of macrophages 3-4 wk after a compression-injury of rat spinal cord. To explore whether reactivation of endogenous macrophages might be beneficial for spinal cord repair, we have studied the effects of granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in the same paraplegia model and in cell cultures. There was a significant, though transient, improvement of locomotor recovery after a single delayed intraperitoneal injection of 2 microg GM-CSF, which also increased significantly the expression of Cr3 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) by macrophages at the lesion site. At longer survival delays, axonal regeneration was significantly enhanced in GM-CSF-treated rats. In vitro, BV2 microglial cells expressed higher levels of BDNF in the presence of GM-CSF and neurons cocultured with microglial cells activated by GM-CSF generated more neurites, an effect blocked by a BDNF antibody. These experiments suggest that GM-CSF could be an interesting treatment option for spinal cord injury and that its beneficial effects might be mediated by BDNF.

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