Recovery after spinal cord injury by modulation of the proteoglycan receptor PTPσ

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SCI is followed by dramatic upregulation of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) which limit axonal regeneration, oligodendrocyte replacement and remyelination. The recent discovery of the specific CSPGs signaling receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma (RPTPσ) provided an opportunity to refine the therapeutic approach to overcome CSPGs inhibitory actions. In previously published work, subcutaneous (s.c.) delivery of 44 μg/day of a peptide mimetic of PTPσ called intracellular sigma peptide (ISP), which binds to PTPσ and blocks CSPG-mediated inhibition, facilitated recovery after contusive SCI. Since this result could be of great interest for clinical trials, we independently repeated this study, but modified the method of injury as well as peptide application and the dosage. Following SCI at the Th10-segment, 40 rats were distributed in 3 groups. Animals in group 1 (20 rats) were subjected to SCI, but received no treatment. Rats in group 2 were treated with intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of 44 μg/day ISP (SCI + ISP44) and animals of group 3 with s.c. injections of 500 μg/day ISP (SCI + ISP500) for 7 weeks after lesioning. Recovery was analyzed at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 weeks after SCI by determining (i) BBB-score, (ii) foot-stepping angle, (iii) rump-height index, (iv) number of correct ladder steps, (v) bladder score and (vi) sensitivity (withdrawal latency after thermal stimulus). Finally, we determined the amount of serotonergic fibers in the preserved neural tissue bridges (PNTB) around the lesion site. Our results show that, systemic therapy with ISP improved locomotor, sensory and vegetative recovery which correlated with more spared serotonergic fibers in PNTB.

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