The mevalonate pathway has been extensively studied for its involvement in cholesterol synthesis.
Inhibition of this pathway using statins (3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors;
HMGR inhibitors) is the primarily selected method due to its cholesterol-lowering effect, making
statins the most commonly used (86-94%) cholesterol-lowering drugs in adults. This pathway has several
other by-products that are affected by statins including GTPase molecules (guanine triphosphate-binding
kinases), such as Rho/Rho-associated coiled kinase (ROCK) kinases, that are implicated in other diseases,
including those of the central nervous system (CNS). These molecules control several aspects of neural
cell life including axonal growth, cellular migration, and cell death, and therefore, are of increasing interest
in the field of spinal cord injury (SCI).
Limited regeneration capacity of nerve fibers in adult CNS has been considered the main obstacle for
finding a SCI cure. Over the past two decades, the identity of inhibitory factors for regeneration has been
widely investigated. It is well-established that the Rho/ROCK kinase system is specifically activated by
the components of damaged spinal cord tissue, including oligodendrocytes and myelin, as well as extracellular
matrix. This has led many groups to hypothesize that statin therapy may in fact enhance the
current neurorestorative approaches. In this mini-review, a summary of SCI pathophysiology is discussed
and the current literature targeting the regeneration obstacles in SCI are reviewed, with special attention
to recent publications of the past decade. In addition, we focus on the current literature involving the use
of pharmacological and molecular inhibitors of small GTPase molecules for treatment of neurotrauma.
Inhibiting these molecules has been shown to increase neuroprotection, enhance axonal regeneration, and
facilitate the implementation of cell replacement therapies. Based upon available literature, the need for
clinical trials involving targeted inhibition of GTPase molecules remains strong. Some of these drugs are
widely used for other diseases, and therefore re-purposing their application for neurotrauma can be fasttracked.
These approaches can potentially modify the inhibitory environment of nervous tissue to allow
the spontaneous repair capacity of injured tissue.