It was investigated whether the addition of basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) enhances the efficacy of a Schwann cell (SC) bridge to repair the transected spinal cord by assessing tissue sparing and neuronal survival near the graft-cord interfaces, axonal regeneration and myelination in the graft, and behavioral recovery up to 12 weeks post-grafting. Experimental animals received a bridge of SCs within fibrin containing 1 μg of FGF-2; control animals received a SC implant without FGF-2. Sparing of tissue in a 2.5-mm-long segment near the graft-cord borders was 69% in the rostral and 52% in the caudal cord at 6 weeks post-grafting, not significantly different from the control group. With FGF-2, survival of NeuN-positive cells was increased in the rostral cord: 24.4%, 20.4%, and 17.2% of the number of positive cells in the uninjured cord compared to 13.5%, 9.1%, and 8.9% in controls at 3, 6, and 12 weeks post-grafting, respectively. Similarly, in the caudal cord, survival of NeuN-positive cells was increased with FGF-2: 19.3%, 16.8%, and 14.5% compared to 10.8%, 5.6%, and 6.1% in controls. The staining intensity of glial fibrillary acidic protein was significantly higher at the interfaces of both cord stumps at 3 weeks with SC/FGF-2 grafts; chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CS-56) staining was more intense in the rostral cord but only at 6 weeks. Blood vessels in the FGF-2 grafts were larger and less regular in shape than those in control grafts. Axonal growth into the bridge was not improved by the addition of FGF-2. Retrogradely traced neurons were not found rostral to the implant, indicating that axons had not grown a few mm into the caudal spinal tissue. Recovery of hind limb function was similar in both groups. Despite the neuroprotective effects of FGF-2, improved effects on axonal regeneration and functional recovery were not observed.
- Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan
- Glial fibrillary acidic protein
- Spinal cord injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology