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J Neurotrauma. 2009 Jan;26(1):41-53. doi: 10.1089/neu.2008.0646.

Type I interferon inhibits astrocytic gliosis and promotes functional recovery after spinal cord injury by deactivation of the MEK/ERK pathway.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Nagoya University School of Medicine , Nagoya, Japan.


Formation of a glial scar is one of the major obstacles to axonal growth after injury to the adult CNS. In this study, we have addressed this issue by focusing on reactive astrocytes in a mouse model of spinal cord injury (SCI). First, we attempted to identify profile changes in the expression of astrocytic gliosis 10 days after injury by using gliosis-specific microdissection, genome-wide microarray, and MetaCore(trade mark) pathway analysis. This systematic data processing revealed many intriguing activated pathways. However, considering that proliferation/mitosis is one of the most prominent features of reactive astrocytes, we focused on the functional role of the Ras-MEK-ERK signaling cascades in reactive astrocytes. SCI-induced proliferation of reactive astrocytes in the lesion is in accordance with the increase in the expression and phosphorylation of MEK-ERK. Second, to reduce reactive gliosis after SCI, liposomes containing the interferon-beta (IFN-beta) gene were administered locally 30 min after injury. At 14 days after this treatment, GFAP-positive intensity and MEK-ERK phosphorylation at the lesion were reduced. In the animals receiving the IFN-beta gene, significant recovery of neurobehavior and parameters of electrophysiology following SCI was revealed by assessments of rotarod performance and improvements in the Basso Mouse Scale for locomotion and cortical motor-evoked potentials. SCI resulted in the degeneration of biotinylated dextran amine-labeled descending corticospinal tract axons, but the IFN-beta gene delivery induced regrowth of a large number of corticospinal tract axons. These results suggest that liposome-mediated IFN-beta gene delivery inhibits glial scar formation after SCI and promotes functional recovery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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