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Thread: Spinal cord healing vs regeneration potential

  1. #1
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    Spinal cord healing vs regeneration potential

    This doesn’t really fit here but I’m not sure where else to put it. Is there a difference between healing and regeneration? My cord is very fragile, atrophied they say. If when I fell I banged or bruised or stretched it—neurosurgeon says “dinged” it—rather than transected it, what is the potential for it to heal some? If it can, what would be the time frame for it to happen or not? Would it have made any difference to do steroids immediately? For how long might steroids still have an effect?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Random
    This doesn’t really fit here but I’m not sure where else to put it. Is there a difference between healing and regeneration? My cord is very fragile, atrophied they say. If when I fell I banged or bruised or stretched it—neurosurgeon says “dinged” it—rather than transected it, what is the potential for it to heal some? If it can, what would be the time frame for it to happen or not? Would it have made any difference to do steroids immediately? For how long might steroids still have an effect?
    Randy,

    I don't know what other people understand when they hear the word healing but I think of tissue repair, ending in closure of all abnormal openings and surfaces. When a tissue is injured, it needs new blood vessels and restoration of the cells that compose the tissue.

    In the spinal cord, the process of healing does not necessarily involve "regeneration". In fact, the healing process may prevent regeneration. The reason is that astrocytes in the spinal cord decide what is outside of the cord and inside and cord, and they begin proliferating to wall off what is inside and outside. That is in fact the natural function of astrocytes. The line all the blood vessels, the arachnoid surfaces, and the parts of the central nervous system where peripheral nerves enter.

    Axons will not grow across cysts or areas that the astrocytes have walled off. Some scientists call this the "astrocytic scar". I strongly reject this terminology. It is not true "fibrous scar" that occurs in the skin or other tissues. The astrocytic proliferation around cells and areas of the spinal cord that represent the "outside" of the spinal cord is a natural part of the healing process.

    On the CNS side, macrophages often remain active for many months or years after injury. They clean up cells that die. In the acute injury site, most of the macrophages probably come from th blood. However, in the chronic lesion, most of the macrophages come from microglia in the central nervous system. They are often filled with myelin fragments.

    Relatively little else is known about the inflammatory process in spinal cord injury. We know that injury induces a massive release of inflammatory cytokines from the spinal cord itself, within minutes after injury. The cytokines induce expression of growth factors, pro-inflammatory cytokines that attract inflammatory cells.

    Note that multiple sclerosis or other auto-immune conditions also stimulate inflammatory responses in the spinal cord. How these responses are initiated and by what cells are not well understood. One of the most interesting results was the discovery that Tysabri (which prevents macrophages from entering the central nervous system) improves MS, suggesting that peripheral inflammatory cells are crucial for MS.

    The first goal of the injured spinal cord is to heal quickly so that the remaining uninjured spinal cord still can function. But, in order to get repair of the spinal cord, we want to inject cells that can quickstart the regeneration process, alongside growth factors, and axonal growth inhibitor blockers.

    Wise.

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