Objective: Myelin-associated inhibitors play a role in limiting axonal growth in the adult central nervous system. Blocking these inhibitors may promote neurological recovery from spinal cord contusion.
Methods: The soluble Nogo-66 receptor (NgR(310)ecto-Fc) protein, which can neutralize three myelin inhibitors, was infused into rats after spinal cord contusion for 28 days. Treatment was initiated intrathecally at the time of injury or 3 days after injury by the intracerebroventricular route at a dose of 0.29 mg/kg/day. Recovery of locomotion and of axonal growth was assessed. Some animals received combination therapy with NgR(310)ecto-Fc plus rolipram, a cyclic adenosine monophosphate phosphodiesterase inhibitor.
Results: Seven weeks after spinal injury, the Basso-Beattie Bresnahan locomotor scores were significantly improved in the 3-day delayed NgR(310)ecto-Fc treatment group (9.5 +/- 0.7; n = 16) versus the vehicle-treated group, (6.75 +/- 0.7; n = 15) (p < or = 0.01, analysis of variance). The percentage of NgR(310)ecto-Fc-treated animals able to support their weight was twice that in the control group. Delayed therapy was as efficacious as acute therapy. Addition of rolipram did not alter recovery. The beneficial behavioral effects of NgR(310)ecto-Fc correlated with sprouting of raphespinal axons in the caudal spinal cord and of corticospinal axons in the rostral spinal cord.
Interpretation: NgR(310)ecto-Fc treatment improves outcome in a rodent model that closely mimicked human spinal cord injury.