Therapeutic Targeting of Intracellular Mechanisms Involved in Glial Scar Formatio

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Glial scarring following CNS injury alters the lesion environment so as to impede axonal regeneration and plasticity, thereby limiting functional restitution. Reactive astrocytes are the main cellular component of the glial scar; astrocytes undergo morphological changes and produce extracellular matrix, such as chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), which physically and chemically inhibit axon growth. Strategies that inhibit astrogliosis or prevent the synthesis of, or degrade, CSPGs have been demonstrated to relieve axon growth inhibition and improve function. Intracellular mechanisms involved in the control of astrocyte reactivity and the stimulation of CSPG production remain poorly understood. Recent reports have shown that the phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor Rolipram can reduce astrogliosis and Preliminary Data from our laboratory indicates that there is a chronic induction of the PDE4A isozyme in reactive astrocytes that occurs in parallel with the maturation of the glial scar. Site-specific targeting of this PDE4 isoform may then prevent astrogliosis and offer a novel therapeutic direction for scar reduction after injury to the spinal cord or brain so as to enhance axon plasticity and functional recovery. To delineate the role of PDE4A in astrocyte reactivity and CSPG production, interference RNA will be used via lentiviral vector expressed PDE4A short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) specifically within astrocytes in vitro [Specific Aim 1] and in vivo (gfap-promoter driven) after spinal cord injury (SCI) [Specific Aim 2]. In astrocyte cultures, the effectiveness of PDE4A knockdown will be refined and the role of PDE4A in mechanisms of cellular reactivity, including A) cytoskeletal rearrangements, B) enhanced cell migration, C) increased cell proliferation and, D) the production of CSPGs, will be examined. Then in vivo, these in vitro effects will be corroborated as well as the anatomical and functional benefits of PDE4A knockdown in repair assessed. A complete transection SCI model will be used to assess if PDE4A knockdown in astrocytes prevents axon dieback and/or allows axonal regeneration across the injury site, while the functional effects of molecular PDE4A inhibition in astrocytes will be examined in an incomplete contusive SCI paradigm.
Effective start/end date6/1/125/31/15


  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: $191,250.00
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: $221,468.00


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