The role of mTOR signaling pathway in spinal cord injury

Cell Cycle. 2012 Sep 1;11(17):3175-9. doi: 10.4161/cc.21262. Epub 2012 Aug 16.


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway plays an important role in multiple cellular functions, such as cell metabolism, proliferation and survival. Many previous studies have shown that mTOR regulates both neuroprotective and neuroregenerative functions in trauma and various diseases in the central nervous system (CNS). Recently, we reported that inhibition of mTOR using rapamycin reduces neural tissue damage and locomotor impairment after spinal cord injury (SCI) in mice. Our results demonstrated that the administration of rapamycin at four hours after injury significantly increases the activity of autophagy and reduces neuronal loss and cell death in the injured spinal cord. Furthermore, rapamycin-treated mice show significantly better locomotor function in the hindlimbs following SCI than vehicle-treated mice. These findings indicate that the inhibition of mTOR signaling using rapamycin during the acute phase of SCI produces neuroprotective effects and reduces secondary damage at lesion sites. However, the role of mTOR signaling in injured spinal cords has not yet been fully elucidated. Various functions are regulated by mTOR signaling in the CNS, and multiple pathophysiological processes occur following SCI. Here, we discuss several unresolved issues and review the evidence from related articles regarding the role and mechanisms of the mTOR signaling pathway in neuroprotection and neuroregeneration after SCI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology*
  • Sirolimus / therapeutic use
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / drug therapy
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*


  • mTOR protein, mouse
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Sirolimus