Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 477-483

First online:

Combination treatment with chondroitinase ABC in spinal cord injury—breaking the barrier

  • Rong-Rong ZhaoAffiliated withBrain Repair Centre, University of Cambridge
  • , James W. FawcettAffiliated withBrain Repair Centre, University of Cambridge Email author 

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After spinal cord injury (SCI), re-establishing functional circuitry in the damaged central nervous system (CNS) faces multiple challenges including lost tissue volume, insufficient intrinsic growth capacity of adult neurons, and the inhibitory environment in the damaged CNS. Several treatment strategies have been developed over the past three decades, but successful restoration of sensory and motor functions will probably require a combination of approaches to address different aspects of the problem. Degradation of the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans with the chondroitinase ABC (ChABC) enzyme removes a regeneration barrier from the glial scar and increases plasticity in the CNS by removing perineuronal nets. its mechanism of action does not clash or overlap with most of the other treatment strategies, making ChABC an attractive candidate as a combinational partner with other methods. in this article, we review studies in rat SCI models using ChABC combined with other treatments including cell implantation, growth factors, myelin-inhibitory molecule blockers, and ion channel expression. We discuss possible ways to optimize treatment protocols for future combinational studies. To date, combinational therapies with ChABC have shown synergistic effects with several other strategies in enhancing functional recovery after SCI. These combinatorial approaches can now be developed for clinical application.


spinal cord injury combination treatment chondroitinase ABC chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan rehabilitation plasticity axon regeneration