Survival, regeneration and functional recovery of motoneurons after delayed reimplantation of avulsed spinal root in adult rat

Huai-Yu Gu, Hong Chai, Jian-Yi Zhang, Zhi-Bin Yao, Li-Hua Zhou, Wai-Man Wong, Iain C Bruce, Wu-Tian Wu
Experimental Neurology 2005, 192 (1): 89-99
We have established that extensive reinnervation and functional recovery follow immediate reimplantation of avulsed ventral roots in adult rats. In the present study, we examined the consequences of reimplantation delayed for 2 weeks after avulsion of the C6 spinal root. Twelve and 20 weeks after delayed reimplantation, 57% and 53% of the motoneurons in the injured spinal segment survived. More than 80% of surviving motoneurons regenerated axons into the reimplanted spinal root. Cholinesterase-silver staining revealed axon terminals on endplates in the denervated muscles. The biceps muscles in reimplanted animals had atrophied less than those in animals with avulsion only, as indicated by muscle wet weight and histological appearance. After electrical stimulation of the motor cortex or the C6 spinal root, typical EMG signals were recorded in biceps of reimplanted animals. The latency of the muscle potential at 20 weeks was similar to that of sham-operated controls. Behavioral recovery was demonstrated by a grooming test and ipsilateral forepaw movements were well coordinated in both voluntary and automatic activities. These results demonstrate that ventral root reimplantation can protect severed motoneurons, enable the severed motoneurons to regenerate axons, and enhance the recovery of forelimb function even when it is delayed for 2 weeks after avulsion.

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