Trophic factor treatment has been shown to improve the recovery of brain and spinal cord injury (SCI). In this study, we examined the effects of TSC1 (a combination of insulin-like growth factor 1 and transferrin) 4 and 8 h after SCI at the thoracic segment level (T12) in nestin-GFP transgenic mice. TSC1 treatment for 4 and 8 h increased the number of nestin-expressing cells around the lesion site and prevented Wallerian degeneration. Treatment with TSC1 for 4 h significantly increased heat shock protein (HSP)-32 and HSP-70 expression 1 and 2 mm from lesion site (both, caudal and rostral). Conversely, the number of HSP-32 positive cells decreased after an 8-h TSC1 treatment, although it was still higher than in both, non-treated SCI and intact spinal cord animals. Furthermore, TSC1 increased NG2 expressing cell numbers and preserved most axons intact, facilitating remyelination and repair. These results support our hypothesis that TSC1 is an effective treatment for cell and tissue neuroprotection after SCI. An early intervention is crucial to prevent secondary damage of the injured SC and, in particular, to prevent Wallerian degeneration.
Keywords: Heat shock proteins; IGF-1; Myelin; Oligodendrocytes; Transferrin; Wallerian degeneration.