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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2008;40(9):1649-53. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2008.03.009. Epub 2008 Mar 16.

Spinal cord injury: emerging beneficial role of reactive astrocytes' migration.

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Department of Physiology, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.


Spinal cord injury (SCI), despite considerable progress in palliative care, has currently no satisfying therapeutic leading to functional recovery. Inability of central nervous system severed axons to regenerate after injury is considered to originate from both limited intrinsic capabilities of neurons and inhibitory effect of the local environment. Precisely, the so-called "glial scar" formed by reactive astrocytes in response to injury exerts a well-known axon-outgrowth inhibitory effect. However, recent studies revealed that role of reactive astrocytes after SCI is more complex. During the first weeks after injury, reactive astrocytes indeed protect the tissue and contribute to a spontaneous relative functional recovery. Compaction of the lesion center and seclusion of inflammatory cells by migrating reactive astrocytes seem to underlie this beneficial effect. Stimulation of reactive astrocytes migration in the sub-acute phase of SCI might thus represent a new approach to improve the functional outcome of patients.

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