Neural Plasticity After Spinal Cord Injury

Author(s): Yuemin Ding, Abba J. Kastin, Weihong Pan.

Journal Name: Current Pharmaceutical Design

Volume 11 , Issue 11 , 2005

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Abstract:

Spinal cord injury (SCI) has devastating physical and socioeconomical impact. However, some degree of functional recovery is frequently observed in patients after SCI. There is considerable evidence that functional plasticity occurs in cerebral cortical maps of the body, which may account for functional recovery after injury. Additionally, these plasticity changes also occur at multiple levels including the brainstem, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. Although the interaction of plasticity changes at each level has been less well studied, it is likely that changes in subcortical levels contribute to cortical reorganization. Since the permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is changed, SCI-induced factors, such as cytokines and growth factors, can be involved in the plasticity events, thus affecting the final functional recovery after SCI. The mechanism of plasticity probably differs depending on the time frame. The reorganization that is rapidly induced by acute injury is likely based on unmasking of latent synapses resulting from modulation of neurotransmitters, while the long-term changes after chronic injury involve changes of synaptic efficacy modulated by long-term potentiation and axonal regeneration and sprouting. The functional significance of neural plasticity after SCI remains unclear. It indicates that in some situations plasticity changes can result in functional improvement, while in other situations they may have harmful consequences. Thus, further understanding of the mechanisms of plasticity could lead to better ways of promoting useful reorganization and preventing undesirable consequences.

Keywords: spinal cord injury, plasticity, reorganization, cortex, blood-brain barrier

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Article Details

VOLUME: 11
ISSUE: 11
Year: 2005
Page: [1441 - 1450]
Pages: 10
DOI: 10.2174/1381612053507855
Price: $58

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