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J Neurochem. 2007 Oct;103(1):181-9. Epub 2007 Jul 2.

Inhibition of Rho kinase (ROCK) increases neurite outgrowth on chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan in vitro and axonal regeneration in the adult optic nerve in vivo.

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Department of Neurology, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Faculty of Medicine, Göttingen, Germany.


Inhibitory molecules derived from CNS myelin and glial scar tissue are major causes for insufficient functional regeneration in the mammalian CNS. A multitude of these molecules signal through the Rho/Rho kinase (ROCK) pathway. We evaluated three inhibitors of ROCK, Y- 27632, Fasudil (HA-1077), and Dimethylfasudil (H-1152), in models of neurite outgrowth in vitro. We show, that all three ROCK inhibitors partially restore neurite outgrowth of Ntera-2 neurons on the inhibitory chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan substrate. In the rat optic nerve crush model Y-27632 dose-dependently increased regeneration of retinal ganglion cell axons in vivo. Application of Dimethylfasudil showed a trend towards increased axonal regeneration in an intermediate concentration. We demonstrate that inhibition of ROCK can be an effective therapeutic approach to increase regeneration of CNS neurons. The selection of a suitable inhibitor with a broad therapeutic window, however, is crucial in order to minimize unwanted side effects and to avoid deleterious effects on nerve fiber growth.

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