• Takahashi M, Arai Y, Kurosawa H, Sueyoshi N and Shirai S (2003). Ependymal cell reactions in spinal cord segments after compression injury in adult rat. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 62:185-94. Summary: Recently, it has been suggested that neural stem cells and neural progenitor cells exist in the ependyma that forms the central canal of the spinal cord. In this study, we produced various degrees of thoracic cord injury in adult rats using an NYU-weight-drop device, assessed the degree of recovery of lower limb motor function based on a locomotor rating scale, and analyzed the kinetics of ependymal cell proliferation and differentiation by proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), nestin, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), or GAP-43 immunostaining. The results showed that the time course of the ependymal cell proliferation and differentiation reactions differed according to the severity of injury, and that the responses occurred not only in the neighborhood of the injury but in the entire spinal cord. An increase in the locomotor rating score was related to an increase in the number of PCNA-positive cells, and the differentiation of ependymal cells into reactive astrocytes was involved in injury repair. No apoptotic cells in the ependyma were detectable by the TUNEL method. These results indicate that the ependymal cells of the spinal central canal are themselves multipotent, can divide and proliferate according to the severity of injury, and differentiate into reactive astrocytes within the ependyma without undergoing apoptosis or cell death. Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Juntendo University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan. mastk@med.juntendo.ac.jp