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Spinal cord injury and the neuron-intrinsic regeneration-associated gene program

Research group Verhaagen
Publication year 2014
Published in NeuroMolecular Medicine
Authors Nitish D Fagoe, Jessica van Heest, J. Verhaagen

Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects millions of people worldwide and causes a significant physical, emotional, social and economic burden. The main clinical hallmark of SCI is the permanent loss of motor, sensory and autonomic function below the level of injury. In general, neurons of the central nervous system (CNS) are incapable of regeneration, whereas injury to the peripheral nervous system is followed by axonal regeneration and usually results in some degree of functional recovery. The weak neuron-intrinsic regeneration-associated gene (RAG) response upon injury is an important reason for the failure of neurons in the CNS to regenerate an axon. This response consists of the expression of many RAGs, including regeneration-associated transcription factors (TFs). Regeneration-associated TFs are potential key regulators of the RAG program. The function of some regeneration-associated TFs has been studied in transgenic and knock-out mice and by adeno-associated viral vector-mediated overexpression in injured neurons. Here, we review these studies and propose that AAV-mediated gene delivery of combinations of regeneration-associated TFs is a potential strategy to activate the RAG program in injured CNS neurons and achieve long-distance axon regeneration.

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