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Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 251–264 | Cite as

Reactive Astrogliosis after Spinal Cord Injury—Beneficial and Detrimental Effects

  • Soheila Karimi-AbdolrezaeeEmail author
  • Rohini Billakanti
Article

Abstract

Reactive astrogliosis is a pathologic hallmark of spinal cord injury (SCI). It is characterised by profound morphological, molecular, and functional changes in astrocytes that occur within hours of SCI and evolves as time elapses after injury. Astrogliosis is a defense mechanism to minimize and repair the initial damage but eventually leads to some detrimental effects. Reactive astrocytes secrete a plethora of both growth promoting and inhibitory factors after SCI. However, the production of inhibitory components surpasses the growth stimulating factors, thus, causing inhibitory effects. In severe cases of injury, astrogliosis results in the formation of irreversible glial scarring that acts as regeneration barrier due to the expression of inhibitory components such as chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans. Scar formation was therefore recognized from a negative perspective for many years. Accumulating evidence from pharmacological and genetic studies now signifies the importance of astrogliosis and its timing for spinal cord repair. These studies have advanced our knowledge regarding signaling pathways and molecular mediators, which trigger and modulate reactive astrocytes and scar formation. In this review, we discuss the recent advances in this field. We also review therapeutic strategies that have been developed to target astrocytes reactivity and glial scaring in the environment of SCI. Astrocytes play pivotal roles in governing SCI mechanisms, and it is therefore crucial to understand how their activities can be targeted efficiently to harness their potential for repair and regeneration after SCI.

Keywords

Astrocytes Spinal cord injury Glial scar Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans Chondroitinase Axonal regeneration Cell replacement Therapeutic targets 

Abbreviations

BBB

Blood–brain barrier

BSB

Blood–spinal barrier

BMPs

Bone morphogenetic proteins

ChABC

Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans

CSPGs

Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans

CNS

Central nervous system

Eph

Ephrin

ECM

Extracellular matrix

GFAP

Glial fibrillary acidic proteins

GAG

Glycosaminoglycans

IL

Interleukin

NPCs

Neural precursor cells

OPCs

Oligodendrocyte precursor cells

RPTP

Receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases

SCI

Spinal cord injury

Stat3

Signal transducers and activators of transcription3

TGF

Transforming growth factors

TNF-α

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha

XT

Xylosyltransferase

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Regenerative Medicine Program, Departments of Physiology and Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, the Spinal Cord Research CenterUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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