REGENERATION of neurons damaged following spinal cord injuries is mediated by oxidising species, including peroxides, that form during the metabolism of oxygen, according to researchers from IBEC, Barcelona, Spain and Imperial College London, London, UK. The discovery could pave the way for the development of new regenerative therapies after nerve or spinal cord injury.
In order to understand the mechanism that regulates regeneration after injuries to the spinal cord, animals underwent conditioning nerve lesions; these are recognised as contributing to regeneration in later lesions, although it is not clear exactly how this works. After identifying that reactive oxygen species (ROS) always accompanied regeneration after an injury, the team administered oxygenated water, a type of ROS, in the sciatic nerve to try and simulate this conditional injury. It was found that only those animals that received the ROS injection were functional again 4 weeks after a spinal cord injury.
This study provides valuable information about the mechanisms concerning the role of ROS in regenerating neurons after injury, which could lead to new methods that control and improve regeneration after spinal cord injuries. “The solution would be to modulate the oxidant and inflammatory response of the body instead of blocking it, as we currently do,” explained first author of the study Dr Arnau Hervera, IBEC. “It questions the use of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory responses for nerve injuries, as it is evidence of the need to have an immune response that participates in the regeneration process.”
New Type of Treatment
Currently, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants are used to mitigate the damage in nerve or spinal injury patients. This new research has shown how oxidation can promote the regeneration of axons following a nerve injury, which could be a far more effective method of treatment.
James Coker, Reporter
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