Focal traumatic brain injury induces neuroplastic molecular responses in lumbar spinal cord

Olga Kononenko, Hiroyuki Watanabe, Lada Stålhandske, Ann Zarelius, Fredrik Clausen, Tatiana Yakovleva, Georgy Bakalkin, Niklas Marklund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Objectives: Motor impairment induced by traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be mediated through changes in spinal molecular systems regulating neuronal plasticity. We assessed whether a focal controlled cortical impact (CCI) TBI in the rat alters expression of the Tgfb1, c-Fos, Bdnf, and Gap43 neuroplasticity genes in lumbar spinal cord. Approach/Methods: Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 8) were subjected to a right-side CCI over the anterior sensorimotor hindlimb representation area or sham-injury (n = 8). Absolute expression levels of Tgfb1, c-Fos, Bdnf, and Gapd43 genes were measured by droplet digital PCR in ipsi-and contralesional, dorsal and ventral quadrants of the L4 and L5 spinal cord. The neuronal activity marker c-Fos was analysed by immunohistochemistry in the dorsal L4 and L5 segments. The contra- vs. ipsilesional expression pattern was examined as the asymmetry index, AI. Results: The Tgfb1 mRNA levels were significantly higher in the CCI vs. sham-injured rats, and in the contra- vs. ipsilesional dorsal domains in the CCI group. The number of c-Fos-positive cells was elevated in the L4 and L5 segments; and on the contralesional compared to the ipsilesional side in the CCI group. The c-Fos AI in the dorsal laminae was significantly increased by CCI. Conclusions: The results support the hypothesis that focal TBI induces plastic alterations in the lumbar spinal cord that may contribute to either motor recovery or maladaptive motor responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology

Free keywords

  • c-Fos
  • plasticity
  • spinal cord
  • Tgfb1
  • Traumatic brain injury


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