PublicationsProfound differences in spontaneous long-term functional recovery after defined spinal tract lesions in the rat
The purpose of this study was to compare spontaneous functional recovery after different spinal motor tract lesions in the rat spinal cord using three methods of analysis, the BBB, the rope test, and the CatWalk. We transected the dorsal corticospinal tract (CSTx) or the rubrospinal tract (RSTx) or the complete dorsal half of the spinal cord (Hx) at thoracic level T8. Functional recovery was monitored for 31 weeks. We found no recovery of consistent inter limb coordination in any experimental group over time using the BBB locomotor rating scale. Quantitative CatWalk analysis revealed significant differences between experimental groups for inter limb coordination (RI). RSTx and Hx animals showed a significant decrease in the RI, and only in the RSTx group did the RI improve from 6 weeks post-lesion onward. Significant differences between experimental groups in step sequence patterns and base of support were also observed. In the rope test all experimental groups had significantly higher error percentages compared to control animals. Tracing of the CST revealed enhanced collateral formation rostral to the lesion in the CSTx group, not in other groups. The results presented here show that locomotor function in all, but CSTx groups gradually improved over time. This is important for studies that employ pharmacological, cell-, and/or gene therapy- based interventions to improve axonal regeneration and functional recovery after spinal cord injury.