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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53911. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053911. Epub 2013 Jan 21.

The multifaceted effects of agmatine on functional recovery after spinal cord injury through Modulations of BMP-2/4/7 expressions in neurons and glial cells.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Abstract

Presently, few treatments for spinal cord injury (SCI) are available and none have facilitated neural regeneration and/or significant functional improvement. Agmatine (Agm), a guanidinium compound formed from decarboxylation of L-arginine by arginine decarboxylase, is a neurotransmitter/neuromodulator and been reported to exert neuroprotective effects in central nervous system injury models including SCI. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the multifaceted effects of Agm on functional recovery and remyelinating events following SCI. Compression SCI in mice was produced by placing a 15 g/mm(2) weight for 1 min at thoracic vertebra (Th) 9 segment. Mice that received an intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of Agm (100 mg/kg/day) within 1 hour after SCI until 35 days showed improvement in locomotor recovery and bladder function. Emphasis was made on the analysis of remyelination events, neuronal cell preservation and ablation of glial scar area following SCI. Agm treatment significantly inhibited the demyelination events, neuronal loss and glial scar around the lesion site. In light of recent findings that expressions of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are modulated in the neuronal and glial cell population after SCI, we hypothesized whether Agm could modulate BMP- 2/4/7 expressions in neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and play key role in promoting the neuronal and glial cell survival in the injured spinal cord. The results from computer assisted stereological toolbox analysis (CAST) demonstrate that Agm treatment dramatically increased BMP- 2/7 expressions in neurons and oligodendrocytes. On the other hand, BMP- 4 expressions were significantly decreased in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes around the lesion site. Together, our results reveal that Agm treatment improved neurological and histological outcomes, induced oligodendrogenesis, protected neurons, and decreased glial scar formation through modulating the BMP- 2/4/7 expressions following SCI.

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