Send to

Choose Destination
Exp Neurol. 2008 Nov;214(1):10-24. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2008.06.012. Epub 2008 Jul 2.

TGF-alpha increases astrocyte invasion and promotes axonal growth into the lesion following spinal cord injury in mice.

Author information

The Ohio State University, Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program, OH, USA.


Astrocytes respond to environmental cues and play a multifaceted role in the response to trauma in the central nervous system. As the most prevalent contributors to the glial scar, astrocytes are targeted as barriers to regeneration. However, there is also strong evidence that astrocytes are vital for neuroprotection and metabolic support after injury. In addition, consistent with their role during development, astrocytes may be capable of supporting the growth of injured axons. Therefore, we hypothesized that with appropriate stimulation, the reparative functions of endogenous astrocytes could be harnessed to promote axon growth and recovery after spinal cord injury. Transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha) is a mitogenic growth factor that is active on astrocytes and is poised to contribute to such a strategy. Recombinant TGF-alpha was administered intrathecally to adult C57BL/6 mice for two weeks following a moderate mid-thoracic spinal cord contusion. By three weeks post-injury, TGF-alpha infusion had not affected locomotor recovery, but promoted extensive axon growth and altered the composition of the lesion site. The center of the lesion in the treated mice contained greater numbers of new cells and increased astrocyte invasion. Despite the expression of inhibitory proteoglycans, there was a marked increase in axons expressing neurofilament and GAP-43 immunoreactivity, and the new axons were closely associated with increased laminin expression within and beyond the astrocyte matrix. The results demonstrate that astrocytes are dynamic players in the response to spinal cord injury, and the growth-supportive role of these cells can be enhanced by TGF-alpha infusion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center