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Effects of Neurotransplants and BDNF on the Survival and Regeneration of Injured Adult Spinal Motoneurons



We compared the effects of peripheral nerve grafts, embryonic spinal cord transplants and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) on the survival and axon regeneration of adult rat spinal motor neurons undergoing retrograde degeneration after ventral root avulsion. Following implantation into the dorsolateral funiculus of the injured spinal cord segment, neither a peripheral nerve graft nor a combination of peripheral nerve graft with embryonic spinal cord transplant could prevent the retrograde motor neuron degeneration induced by ventral root avulsion. However, intrathecal infusion of BDNF promoted long-term survival of the lesioned motor neurons and induced abundant motor axon regeneration from the avulsion zone along the spinal cord surface towards the BDNF source. A combination of ventral root reconstitution and BDNF treatment might therefore be a promising means for the support of both motor neuron survival and guided motor axon regeneration after ventral root lesions.