Video_5_Contralateral Axon Sprouting but Not Ipsilateral Regeneration Is Responsible for Spontaneous Locomotor Recovery Post Spinal Cord Hemisection.AVI
Spinal cord injury (SCI) usually results in permanent functional impairment and is considered a worldwide medical problem. However, both motor and sensory functions can spontaneously recover to varying extents in humans and animals with incomplete SCI. This study observed a significant spontaneous hindlimb locomotor recovery in Sprague-Dawley rats at four weeks after post-right-side spinal cord hemisection at thoracic 8 (T8). To verify whether the above spontaneous recovery derives from the ipsilateral axonal or neuronal regeneration to reconnect the lesion site, we resected either the scar tissue or right side T7 spinal cord at five weeks post-T8 hemisected injury. The results showed that the spontaneously achieved right hindlimb locomotor function had little change after resection. Furthermore, when T7 left hemisection was performed five weeks after the initial injury, the spontaneously achieved right hindlimb locomotor function was dramatically abolished. A similar result could also be observed when T7 transection was performed after the initial hemisection. The results indicated that it might be the contralateral axonal remolding rather than the ipsilateral axonal or neuronal regeneration beyond the lesion site responsible for the spontaneous hindlimb locomotor recovery. The immunostaining analyses and corticospinal tracts (CSTs) tracing results confirmed this hypothesis. We detected no substantial neuronal and CST regeneration throughout the lesion site; however, significantly more CST fibers were observed to sprout from the contralateral side at the lumbar 4 (L4) spinal cord in the hemisection model rats than in intact ones. In conclusion, this study verified that contralateral CST sprouting, but not ipsilateral CST or neuronal regeneration, is primarily responsible for the spontaneous locomotor recovery in hemisection SCI rats.