Remyelination after chronic spinal cord injury is associated with proliferation of endogenous adult progenitor cells after systemic administration of guanosine
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Axonal demyelination is a consistent pathological sequel to chronic brain and spinal cord injuries and disorders that slows or disrupts impulse conduction, causing further functional loss. Since oligodendroglial progenitors are present in the demyelinated areas, failure of remyelination may be due to lack of sufficient proliferation and differentiation of oligodendroglial progenitors. Guanosine stimulates proliferation and differentiation of many types of cells in vitro and exerts neuroprotective effects in the central nervous system (CNS). Five weeks after chronic traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), when there is no ongoing recovery of function, intraperitoneal administration of guanosine daily for 2 weeks enhanced functional improvement correlated with the increase in myelination in the injured cord. Emphasis was placed on analysis of oligodendrocytes and NG2-positive (NG2+) cells, an endogenous cell population that may be involved in oligodendrocyte replacement. There was an increase in cell proliferation (measured by bromodeoxyuridine staining) that was attributable to an intensification in progenitor cells (NG2+ cells) associated with an increase in mature oligodendrocytes (determined by Rip+ staining). The numbers of astroglia increased at all test times after administration of guanosine whereas microglia only increased in the later stages (14 days). Injected guanosine and its breakdown product guanine accumulated in the spinal cords; there was more guanine than guanosine detected. We conclude that functional improvement and remyelination after systemic administration of guanosine is due to the effect of guanosine/guanine on the proliferation of adult progenitor cells and their maturation into myelin-forming cells. This raises the possibility that administration of guanosine may be useful in the treatment of spinal cord injury or demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis where quiescent oligodendroglial progenitors exist in demyelinated plaques.
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