Emerging targets for reprograming the immune response to promote repair and recovery of function after spinal cord injury

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Purpose of reviewIn adult mammals, a traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) elicits a chronic unregulated neuroinflammatory response accompanied by seemingly paradoxical suppression of systemic immunity. These SCI-induced changes in immune function contribute to poor neurological outcomes and enhanced morbidity or mortality. Nonspecific anti-inflammatory or proinflammatory therapies are ineffective and can even worsen outcomes. Therefore, recent experimental SCI research has advanced the understanding of how neuroimmune cross-talk contributes to spinal cord and systemic pathology.Recent findingsIt is now appreciated that the immune response caused by injury to the brain or spinal cord encompasses heterogeneous elements that can drive events on the spectrum between exacerbating pathology and promoting tissue repair, within the spinal cord and throughout the body. Recent novel discoveries regarding the role and regulation of soluble factors, monocytes/macrophages, microRNAs, lymphocytes and systemic immune function are highlighted in this review.SummaryA more nuanced understanding of how the immune system responds and reacts to nervous system injury will present an array of novel therapeutic opportunities for clinical SCI and other forms of neurotrauma.

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