Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition that has physical and psychological consequences for patients. SCI is accompanied by scar formation and systemic inflammatory response leading to an intense degree of functional loss. The catechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an active compound found in green tea, holds neuroprotective features and is known for its anti-inflammatory potential. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine/threonine kinase that exists in two functionally distinct complexes termed mTOR complex 1 and 2 (mTORC1; mTORC2). Inhibition of mTORC1 by rapamycin causes neuroprotection, leading to partial recovery from SCI. In this study the effects of EGCG, PP242 (an inhibitor of both complexes of mTOR), and a combination of EGCG and PP242 in SCI have been examined. It has been found that both EGCG and PP242 significantly improved sensory/motor functions following SCI. However, EGCG appeared to be more effective (BBB motor test, from 2 to 8 weeks after SCI, p = 0.019, p = 0.007, p = 0.006, p = 0.006, p = 0.05, p = 0.006, and p = 0.003, respectively). The only exception was the Von Frey test, where EGCG was ineffective, while mTOR inhibition by PP242, as well as PP242 in combination with EGCG, significantly reduced withdrawal latency starting from week three (combinatorial therapy (EGCG + PP242) vs. control at 3, 5, and 7 weeks, p = 0.011, p = 0.007, and p = 0.05, respectively). It has been found that EGCG was as effective as PP242 in suppressing mTOR signaling pathways, as evidenced by a reduction in phosphorylated S6 expression (PP242 (t-test, p < 0.0001) or EGCG (t-test, p = 0.0002)). These results demonstrate that EGCG and PP242 effectively suppress mTOR pathways, resulting in recovery from SCI in rats, and that EGCG acts via suppressing mTOR pathways.
Keywords: EGCG; PP 242; astrogliosis; axonal growth; inflammatory response; mTOR pathway; neuroregeneration; spinal cord injury.