, Volume 83, Issue 9, pp 657-671
Date: 02 Aug 2005

Molecular targets in spinal cord injury

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Abstract

The spinal cord can be compared to a highway connecting the brain with the different body levels lying underneath, with the axons being the ultimate carriers of the electrical impulse. After spinal cord injury (SCI), many cells are lost because of the injury. To reconstitute function, damaged axons from surviving neurons have to grow through the lesion site to their initial targets. However, the territory they have to traverse has changed: the highway is full of inhibitory signals (myelin and scar components); the pavement itself has become bumpy (demyelination); and specialized cells are recruited to clear the way (inflammatory cells). Thus, actual strategies to treat spinal injuries aim at providing a permissive environment for regenerating axons and boosting the endogenous potential of axons to regenerate while limiting progression of secondary damage. Here we review some of the strategies currently under consideration to treat spinal injuries.