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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Co-localization of substance P and dopamine beta-hydroxylase with growth-associated protein-43 is lost caudal to a spinal cord transection.

After spinal cord injury, abnormal responses of spinal cord neurons to sensory input lead to conditions such as autonomic dysreflexia, urinary bladder dyssynergia, muscle spasticity and chronic pain syndromes. These responses suggest that the spinal cord undergoes marked reorganization after an injury. In previous studies, we demonstrated changes in individual patterns of immunoreactivity for growth-associated protein-43, dopamine beta-hydroxylase and substance P that suggest growth and/or changes in expression of neurotransmitter enzymes and peptides in the cord caudal to a transection injury. In the present study we determined whether (i) growth-associated protein-43 and dopamine beta-hydroxylase or substance P were co-expressed in the same neurons prior to cord injury, and (ii) these patterns of expression changed after injury. A change in co-localization patterns caudal to an injury would suggest diversity in responses of different populations of spinal neurons. We used double-labelling immunocytochemistry to determine whether either dopamine beta-hydroxylase or substance P was co-localized with growth-associated protein-43 in control rats and in rats one, two or six weeks after spinal cord transection. We focused on the intermediate gray matter, especially the sympathetic intermediolateral cell column. In control rats, fibres travelling in a stereotyped ladder-like pattern in the thoracic gray matter contained growth-associated protein-43 co-localized with dopamine beta-hydroxylase or substance P. In spinal rats, such co-localization was also observed in spinal cord segments rostral to the cord transection. In contrast, caudal to the transection, substance P and growth-associated protein-43 were found in separate reticular networks. Immunoreactivity for dopamine beta-hydroxylase disappeared in fibres during this time, but was clearly present in somata. Immunoreactivity for growth-associated protein-43 was also found in somata, but never co-localized with that for dopamine beta-hydroxylase. These observations demonstrated co-localization of growth-associated protein-43 with dopamine beta-hydroxylase and substance P in descending spinal cord pathways. Caudal to a cord transection, this co-localization was no longer found, although each substance was present either in an abundant neural network or in somata. One population of spinal neurons responded to cord injury by expressing the growth-associated protein, whereas two others changed in the intensity of their expression of neurotransmitter peptides or enzymes or in the abundance of fibres expressing them. Thus, three populations of spinal neurons had distinct responses to cord injury, two of them increasing their potential input to spinal sensory, sympathetic or motor neurons. Such responses would enhance transmission through spinal pathways after cord injury.[1]


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