Differential gene expression in the EphA4 knockout spinal cord and analysis of the inflammatory response following spinal cord injury

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37635. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037635. Epub 2012 May 22.


Mice lacking the axon guidance molecule EphA4 have been shown to exhibit extensive axonal regeneration and functional recovery following spinal cord injury. To assess mechanisms by which EphA4 may modify the response to neural injury a microarray was performed on spinal cord tissue from mice with spinal cord injury and sham injured controls. RNA was purified from spinal cords of adult EphA4 knockout and wild-type mice four days following lumbar spinal cord hemisection or laminectomy only and was hybridised to Affymetrix All-Exon Array 1.0 GeneChips™. While subsequent analyses indicated that several pathways were altered in EphA4 knockout mice, of particular interest was the attenuated expression of a number of inflammatory genes, including Arginase 1, expression of which was lower in injured EphA4 knockout compared to wild-type mice. Immunohistological analyses of different cellular components of the immune response were then performed in injured EphA4 knockout and wildtype spinal cords. While numbers of infiltrating CD3+ T cells were low in the hemisection model, a robust CD11b+ macrophage/microglial response was observed post-injury. There was no difference in the overall number or spread of macrophages/activated microglia in injured EphA4 knockout compared to wild-type spinal cords at 2, 4 or 14 days post-injury, however a lower proportion of Arginase-1 immunoreactive macrophages/activated microglia was observed in EphA4 knockout spinal cords at 4 days post-injury. Subtle alterations in the neuroinflammatory response in injured EphA4 knockout spinal cords may contribute to the regeneration and recovery observed in these mice following injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Mice
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Receptor, EphA4 / genetics*
  • Receptor, EphA4 / metabolism
  • Recovery of Function
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / genetics*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology


  • Receptor, EphA4