Expression of cell fate determinants and plastic changes after neurotoxic lesion of adult mice spinal cord by cholera toxin-B saporin

Eur J Neurosci. 2010 Apr;31(8):1423-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07170.x. Epub 2010 Apr 9.


Recent studies have attempted to repair the damaged spinal cord (SC) by stimulating neurogenesis or neuroplasticity. Sonic hedgehog (Shh), Notch-1 and Numb are involved in the stem cell functioning. Additionally, Notch-1 has a role as modulator of synaptic plasticity. However, little is known about the role of these proteins in the adult SC after removal of motoneurons. In this study, we have injected cholera toxin-B saporin into the gastrocnemius muscle to induce a depletion of motoneurons within the lumbar SC of adult mice, and analysed the expression of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), Synapsin-I, Shh, Notch-1 and Numb proteins. The functional outcome of the lesion was monitored by grid walk and rotarod tasks. The neurotoxin lesion determined a motoneuron depletion and a transient decrease of ChAT, Synapsin-I, Shh and Numb levels in the lumbar SC. ChAT was associated with Synapsin-I expression and motor performance at 1 week but not 1 month after lesion, suggesting that the recovery of locomotion could depend on synaptic plasticity, at least in an early phase. Shh and Notch-1 were associated with Synapsin-I levels, suggesting a role in modulating synaptic plasticity. Numb expression also appeared reduced after lesion and linked to motor performance. Moreover, unlike other lesion models, we observed glial reaction but no evidence of cell proliferation within the depleted SC. Given the mentioned roles of Shh, Notch-1 and Numb, we believe that an in vivo manipulation of their signalling after lesion could represent a suitable way to improve functional recovery by modulating synaptic plasticity and/or neurogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cholera Toxin
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / pathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / chemically induced
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology
  • Time Factors


  • Cholera Toxin