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Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2009 Sep;29(6-7):999-1013. doi: 10.1007/s10571-009-9387-1. Epub 2009 Apr 7.

Response of ependymal progenitors to spinal cord injury or enhanced physical activity in adult rat.

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Institute of Neurobiology, CE, SAS, Kosice, Slovakia.


Ependymal cells (EC) in the spinal cord central canal (CC) are believed to be responsible for the postnatal neurogenesis following pathological or stimulatory conditions. In this study, we have analyzed the proliferation of the CC ependymal progenitors in adult rats processed to compression SCI or enhanced physical activity. To label dividing cells, a single daily injection of Bromo-deoxyuridine (BrdU) was administered over a 14-day-survival period. Systematic quantification of BrdU-positive ependymal progenitors was performed by using stereological principles of systematic, random sampling, and optical Dissector software. The number of proliferating BrdU-labeled EC increased gradually with the time of survival after both paradigms, spinal cord injury, or increased physical activity. In the spinal cord injury group, we have found 4.9-fold (4 days), 7.1-fold (7 days), 4.9-fold (10 days), and 5.6-fold (14 days) increase of proliferating EC in the rostro-caudal regions, 4 mm away from the epicenter. In the second group subjected to enhanced physical activity by running wheel, we have observed 2.1-2.6 fold increase of dividing EC in the thoracic spinal cord segments at 4 and 7 days, but no significant progression at 10-14 days. Nestin was rapidly induced in the ependymal cells of the CC by 2-4 days and expression decreased by 7-14 days post-injury. Double immunohistochemistry showed that dividing cells adjacent to CC expressed astrocytic (GFAP, S100beta) or nestin markers at 14 days. These data demonstrate that SCI or enhanced physical activity in adult rats induces an endogenous ependymal cell response leading to increased proliferation and differentiation primarily into macroglia or cells with nestin phenotype.

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