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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e50793. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050793. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Spatio-temporal expression pattern of frizzled receptors after contusive spinal cord injury in adult rats.

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Molecular Neurology Laboratory, Hospital Nacional de Paraplejicos, Toledo, Spain.



Wnt proteins are a large family of molecules that are critically involved in multiple central nervous system (CNS) developmental processes. Experimental evidences suggest a role for this family of proteins in many CNS disorders, including spinal cord injury (SCI), which is a major neuropathology owing to its high prevalence and chronic sensorimotor functional sequelae. Interestingly, most Wnt proteins and their inhibitors are expressed in the uninjured spinal cord, and their temporal expression patterns are dramatically altered after injury. However, little is known regarding the expression of their better-known receptors, the Frizzled family, after SCI. Thus, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the expression of Frizzled receptors in the damaged spinal cord.


Based on the evidence that Wnts are expressed in the spinal cord and are transcriptionally regulated by SCI in adulthood, we analysed the spatio-temporal mRNA and protein expression patterns of Frizzled receptors after contusive SCI using quantitative RT-PCR and single and double immunohistochemistry, respectively. Our results show that almost all of the 10 known Frizzled receptors were expressed in specific spatial patterns in the uninjured spinal cords. Moreover, the Frizzled mRNAs and proteins were expressed after SCI, although their expression patterns were altered during the temporal progression of SCI. Finally, analysis of cellular Frizzled 5 expression pattern by double immunohistochemistry showed that, in the uninjured spinal cord, this receptor was expressed in neurons, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, microglia and NG2(+) glial precursors. After injury, Frizzled 5 was not only still expressed in oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and NG2(+) glial precursors but also in axons at all evaluated time points. Moreover, Frizzled 5 was expressed in reactive microglia/macrophages from 3 to 14 days post-injury.


Our data suggest the involvement of Frizzled receptors in physiological spinal cord function and in the cellular and molecular events that characterise its neuropathology.

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