Functional recovery following acute CNS injury in humans, such as spinal cord injury and stroke, is exceptionally limited, leaving the affected individual with life-long neurological deficits such as loss of limb movement and sensation leading to a compromised quality of life. As yet, there is no effective treatment on the market for such injuries. This lack of functional recovery can at least in part be attributed to the restriction of axonal regeneration and neuroplasticity by several CNS myelin proteins that have been shown to be potent inhibitors of neurite outgrowth in vitro, namely myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG), Nogo-A and oligodendrocyte myelin glycoprotein (OMgp). Nogo-A contains multiple neurite outgrowth inhibitory domains exposed on the surface of myelinating oligodendrocytes located within its amino-terminal region (amino-Nogo-A) and C-terminal region (Nogo-66). Although structurally dissimilar; Nogo-66, MAG and OMgp exert their inhibitory effects by binding the GPI-linked neuronal Nogo-66 receptor (NgR) that transduces the inhibitory signal to the cell interior via transmembrane co-receptors LINGO-1 and p75NTR or TROY. Although the receptor(s) for amino- Nogo-A are unknown, amino-Nogo-A and NgR ligands mutually activate the small GTPase RhoA. Consistent with their neurite outgrowth inhibitory function, approaches counter-acting Nogo-A using function-blocking antibodies, NgR using peptide antagonists and receptor bodies or RhoA using deactivating enzymes have been shown to significantly enhance axonal regeneration and neuroplasticity leading to improved functional recovery in animal models of acute CNS injury. These in vivo findings thus provide a sound basis for the development of an effective treatment for acute CNS injuries in humans.
Keywords: Acute CNS injury, antibodies, axonal regeneration, myelin, neuroplasticity, Nogo-A, Nogo-66 receptor
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