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J Neurosci. 2005 Oct 19;25(42):9624-36.

Transplantation of neuronal and glial restricted precursors into contused spinal cord improves bladder and motor functions, decreases thermal hypersensitivity, and modifies intraspinal circuitry.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19129, USA.


Transplanting neuronal and glial restricted precursors (NRP/GRP) into a midthoracic injury 9 d after contusion improved bladder and motor function, diminished thermal hypersensitivity, and modified lumbosacral circuitry compared with operated controls (OP-controls). Histological analysis showed that NRP/GRP survived, filled the lesion site, differentiated into neurons and glia, and migrated selectively. Volume of spinal cord spared was increased in NRP/GRP recipients, suggesting local protection. Bladder areflexia developed in both operated groups, but NRP/GRP recipients exhibited an accelerated recovery, with decreased micturition pressure and fewer episodes of detrusor hyperreflexia. Because noradrenergic receptors proliferate after spinal injury and descending noradrenergic pathways contribute to regulation of bladder control, we examined the effects of administering an alpha-1A-adrenergic antagonist, Tamsulosin, on urodynamics. This improved all cystometric parameters in both operated groups, and micturition pressure in NRP/GRP rats recovered to normal levels. Both operated groups initially showed increased sensitivity to a thermal stimulus applied to the tail; the NRP/GRP rats showed significant improvement over time. NRP/GRP grafts also produced greater recovery of hindlimb function in several tests, although both groups showed persistent and similar deficits in locomotion on a grid. Because bladder, hindlimb, and tail sensory and motor functions are organized through lumbosacral cord, we examined descending and primary afferent projections at L6-S1. The density of serotonergic, noradrenergic, and corticotrophin releasing factor-positive fibers increased in the NRP/GRP group compared with OP-controls, suggesting some sparing and/or sprouting of these modulatory pathways. Immunocytochemical staining density of dorsal root axons in the dorsal horn increased in the OP-controls but appeared normal in the NRP/GRP group. Synaptophysin immunoreactivity in the lumbosacral dorsal horn was similar among groups, consistent with restoration of synaptic density in both groups of operated animals but by different pathways. We suggest that local protection provided by NRP/GRP resulted in increased sparing/sprouting of descending pathways, which prevented sprouting by dorsal root axons, and that this modification in lumbosacral circuitry contributes to the recovery of function.

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