Research press release


Nature Communications

Neuroscience: Breathing control restored in rats after long-term paralysis



今回Philippa Warrenたちの研究グループは、ラットを用いた実験で、呼吸に関与するニューロンが存在する脊髄の領域にコンドロイチナーゼABCという酵素を注射したところ、脊髄損傷後に長い期間を経て形成された瘢痕組織が効率的に分解されることを明らかにした。瘢痕組織が除去された後にはロバストな神経発芽が起こり、ほぼ一生(最大1年半)にわたって呼吸麻痺状態にあったラットが、最終的にほぼ完全な呼吸調節ができるまでに回復した。また、酵素の注射に加えて低酸素条件下に断続的におくと(実験室内で酸素濃度を低下させる時間帯を設定して断続的に曝露した)、回復が増進され、回復状態は治療後最大6か月にわたって維持された。


The recovery of breathing control in rats with long-term (up to one and a half years) spinal cord injuries has been achieved via a treatment strategy involving the injection of an enzyme. The findings are reported in Nature Communications this week.

Breathing impairments are the leading cause of death and disability following spinal cord injury. Nerve fibres that control breathing muscles are frequently disconnected after spinal cord injury and scar tissue gradually forms around these severed nerves, blocking regenerative attempts to reconnect. These fibres were previously thought to rapidly die if not reconnected soon after injury.

Philippa Warren and colleagues show that injecting the enzyme chondroitinase ABC into an area of the spine of rats in which neurons involved in breathing are found efficiently breaks down scar tissue that has built up long after spinal cord injury. They observed robust nerve sprouting after the removal of scar tissue, and animals with near lifelong (up to one and a half years) respiratory paralysis eventually regained almost complete breathing control. Additionally, they found that this recovery was enhanced when combined with intermittent hypoxia conditioning (exposure to periods of decreased oxygen levels), and was maintained up to six months after treatment.

The authors note that further research to determine the precise mechanism through which the recovery process occurred is ongoing.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06937-0

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