A critical shortcoming of the central nervous system is its limited ability to repair injured nerve connections. Trying to overcome this limitation is not only relevant to understand basic neurobiological principles but also holds great promise to advance therapeutic strategies related, in particular, to spinal cord injury (SCI). With barely any SCI patients re-gaining complete neurological function, there is a high need to understand how we could target and improve spinal plasticity to re-establish neuronal connections into a functional network. The development of chemogenetic tools has proven to be of great value to understand functional circuit wiring before and after injury and to correlate novel circuit formation with behavioral outcomes. This review covers commonly used chemogenetic approaches based on metabotropic receptors and their use to improve our understanding of circuit wiring following spinal cord injury.
Keywords: Axon remodeling neuronal activity; Chemogenetics; Circuitry; DREADDs; Spinal cord.
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