Chemogenetic approaches to unravel circuit wiring and related behavior after spinal cord injury

Exp Neurol. 2021 Nov:345:113839. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2021.113839. Epub 2021 Aug 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Nerve Regeneration / drug effects
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / drug therapy
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / genetics
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism*


  • DREADD agonist compound 21
  • Piperazines