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Glial scar and immune cell involvement in tissue remodeling and repair following acute CNS injuries

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Abstract

Inadequate axonal regeneration is a common phenomenon occurring following acute injury to the central nervous system (CNS), and is often associated with permanent neurological deficits. The injured axons attempting to regenerate face the inhospitable environment of the CNS scar, which can hinder axonal growth and sprouting. In addition, in response to the insult, intense activation and infiltration of immune cells take place. Both the scar tissue and immune response, which have received a bad reputation in the context of CNS repair are essential for the overall recovery from CNS injuries, but are not optimally controlled. The glial scar contributes to protection of the spared neural tissues by establishing a boundary between damaged and salvageable tissue, and by educating the immune cells to promote the healing of the CNS tissue. In turn, the immune cells, and in particular the infiltrating macrophages, exert several functions at the lesion site, including resolution of the microglial response, control of scar tissue degradation, and production of growth factors; thereby, promoting neuronal survival, axonal regeneration, and tissue remodeling. As axonal regeneration and tissue remodeling are viewed as critical steps for the overall functional recovery following CNS injury, a detailed understanding of the mechanisms underlying the timely formation and degradation of the CNS scar, and its crosstalk with the inflammatory response, are of great importance, both biologically and clinically. GLIA 2014;62:1895–1904

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