Delayed treatment with Rho-kinase inhibitor does not enhance axonal regeneration or functional recovery after spinal cord injury in rats

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Axonal regeneration in the central nervous system is blocked by many different growth inhibitory factors. Some of these inhibitors act on neurons by activating RhoA and Rho-kinase, an effector of RhoA. Several studies have shown that Rho-kinase inhibition immediately after spinal cord injury enhances axonal sprouting and functional recovery. In this study, we ask whether delayed treatment with Rho-kinase inhibitor is effective in promoting regeneration and functional recovery. We administered Fasudil, a Rho-kinase inhibitor, locally to the injury site 4 weeks or immediately after contusion of the thoracic spinal cord in rats. Although the immediate treatment significantly stimulated axonal sprouting and recovery of hindlimb function, treatment started 4 weeks after surgery had no effect on fiber sprouting or locomotor recovery. Our findings suggest that RhoA/Rho-kinase alone may not account for the irreversible arrest of axon outgrowth in the chronic stage of injury in the central nervous system.

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