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Axonal regeneration of different tracts following transplants of human glial restricted progenitors into the injured spinal cord in rats

Jin, Y;Shumsky, JS;Fischer, I;

The goal of this study was to compare the efficacy of human glial restricted progenitors (hGRPs) in promoting axonal growth of different tracts. We examined the potential of hGRPs grafted into a cervical (C4) dorsal column lesion to test sensory axons, and into a C4 hemisection to test motor tracts. The hGRPs, thawed from frozen stocks, were suspended in a PureCol matrix and grafted acutely into a C4 dorsal column or hemisection lesion. Control rats received PureCol only. Five weeks after transplantation, all transplanted cells survived in rats with the dorsal column lesion but only about half of the grafts in the hemisection. In the dorsal column lesion group, few sensory axons grew short distances into the lesion site of control animals. The presence of hGRPs transplants enhanced axonal growth significantly farther into the transplants. In the hemisection group, coerulospinal axons extended similarly into both control and transplant groups with no enhancement by the presence of hGRPs. Rubrospinal axons did not grow into the lesion even in the presence of hGRPs. However, reticulospinal and raphespinal axons grew for a significantly longer distance into the transplants. These results demonstrate the differential capacity of axonal growth/regeneration of the motor and sensory tracts based on their intrinsic abilities as well as their response to the modified environment induced by the hGRPs transplants. We conclude that hGRP transplants can modify the injury site for axon growth of sensory and some motor tracts, and suggest they could be combined with other interventions to restore connectivity. Copyright 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.