Degenerative and regenerative mechanisms governing spinal cord injury

Christos Profyris, Surindar S Cheema, DaWei Zang, Michael Farzad Azari, Kristy Boyle, Steven Petratos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

367 Citations (Scopus)


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a major cause of disability, and at present, there is no universally accepted treatment. The functional decline following SCI is contributed to both direct mechanical injury and secondary pathophysiological mechanisms that are induced by the initial trauma. These mechanisms initially involve widespread haemorrhage at the site of injury and necrosis of central nervous system (CNS) cellular components. At later stages of injury, the cord is observed to display reactive gliosis. The actions of astrocytes as well as numerous other cells in this response create an environment that is highly nonpermissive to axonal regrowth. Also manifesting important effects is the immune system. The early recruitment of neutrophils and at later stages, macrophages to the site of insult cause exacerbation of injury. However, at more chronic stages, macrophages and recruited T helper cells may potentially be helpful by providing trophic support for neuronal and non-neuronal components of the injured CNS. Within this sea of injurious mechanisms, the oligodendrocytes appear to be highly vulnerable. At chronic stages of SCI, a large number of oligodendrocytes undergo apoptosis at sites that are distant to the vicinity of primary injury. This leads to denudement of axons and deterioration of their conductive abilities, which adds significantly to functional decline. By indulging into the molecular mechanisms that cause oligodendrocyte apoptosis and identifying potential targets for therapeutic intervention, the prevention of this apoptotic wave will be of tremendous value to individuals living with SCI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415 - 436
Number of pages22
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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