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Brain Res. 2004 Jan 30;997(1):30-9.

The effects of ciliary neurotrophic factor on neurological function and glial activity following contusive spinal cord injury in the rats.

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Department of Neurobiology, Second Military Medical University, 800 Xiangyin Road, Shanghai 200433, China.


Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) has been implicated in the pathophysiology of injury to the central nervous system. The rapid increase in CNTF production following spinal cord injury (SCI) in rats is thought to serve a role in the neuronal survival and functional recovery. In this study, 40 SD rats were divided into four groups: sham-operated group, saline-treated group, 5- and 10-microg CNTF group. Saline and CNTF were given through lumbar intrathecal catheter for 10 days after T10 segment of spinal cord were injured by modified Allen contusion method. Animals were behaviorally tested for 6 weeks using the Basso, Beattie, Bresnahan locomotor rating scale and inclined plane test. At the end of 6 week, rubrospinal neurons of five rats in each group were labeled by retrograde transport of the horseradish peroxidase (HRP) from the lesion site, and then the labeled red nucleus neuron (RN) numbers were counted. Additional rats were histologically assessed for tissue sparing and neuronal loss and reactive gliosis at the injury site and adjacent areas. Rats treated with CNTF regained greater improvements in hindlimb function than controls. The amount of spared tissue was significantly higher in CNTF-treated animals than in controls. After CNTF treatment, the number of HRP-labeled RN neurons were significantly increased. Astrocytes and microglia reactivity was more pronounced in CNTF-treated animals than in controls. These results indicate that intrathecal infusion of exogenous CNTF following SCI may significantly reduce tissue damage and protect the rubrospinal descending tracks and enhances functional recovery, and may also induce more gliosis.

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