Chondroitinase ABC promotes axonal regeneration of Clarke's neurons after spinal cord injury

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We examined whether enzymatic digestion of chondroitin sulfate (CS) promoted the axonal regeneration of neurons in Clarke's nucleus (CN) into a peripheral nerve (PN) graft following injury of the spinal cord. After hemisection at T11, a segment of PN graft was implanted at the lesion site. Either vehicle, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or chondroitinase ABC was applied at the implantation site. The postoperative survival period was 4 weeks. Treatment with vehicle or BDNF did not promote the axonal regeneration of CN neurons into the PN graft. Application of 2.5 unit/ml chondroitinase ABC resulted in a significant increase (12.8%) in the number of regenerated CN neurons. Double labeling with Fluoro-Gold and NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry showed that the regenerated CN neurons did not express nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Our results suggest that CS is inhibitory to the regeneration of CN neurons following injury of the spinal cord.

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