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Neuroscience. 2002;114(4):905-16.

Embryonic intermediate filament, nestin, expression following traumatic spinal cord injury in adult rats.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kagawa Medical University, 1750-1 Ikenobe, Miki-cho, Japan.


Precursor cells in the ependyma of the lateral ventricles of adult mammalian brain have been reported in brain, and also in the spinal cord. The present study used antibody to the intermediate filament protein (nestin) as an immunohistochemical marker for neural stem cells and precursor cells in a rat model of spinal cord trauma. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n=25) had a laminectomy at Thll-Thl2, and spinal cord contusion was created by compression with 30 g of force for 10 min. The rats were killed at 24 h, 1 week and 4 weeks after injury, and four levels of the spinal cord were examined: 5 mm and 10 mm, both rostral and caudal region to the injury center. Time- and region-dependent alterations of nestin immunoreactivity were analyzed. Revealed at 24 h post-injury, 5 mm rostral and caudal to the lesions, nestin expression was observed in ependymal cells and around the hemorrhagic and necrotic lesion located in dorsal spinal cord, peaking at 1 week after injury. Moreover, nestin expression was also observed in the white matter of ventral spinal cord, extending into arborizing processes centripetally from the pial surface toward the central canal. At 4 weeks after injury, nestin expression in ependyma decreased 10 mm from the injury site. But nestin expression in white matter increased dramatically with a 100-fold increase in nestin originating from the pial surface, and extension now to all the white matter. The latter was accompanied by glial fibrillary acidic protein positivity into very long arborizing processes, morphologically compatible with radial glia. The findings suggest two possible sources of precursor cells in adult mammalian spinal cord; ependyma of the central canal and subpial astrocytes. Subpial astrocytes may be associated with neural repair and regeneration after spinal cord injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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