Following spinal cord injury, astrocyte proliferation and scar formation are the main factors inhibiting the regeneration and growth of spinal cord axons, leading to motor and sensory function loss below the level of spinal cord injury.

Cell transplantation, bioengineering technology, drugs and other methods can reduce voids of injured spinal cord and suppress glial scar formation, but clinical application results show these methods used alone have no obvious effects.

Liang Wu and colleagues from Capital Medical University used rat models of T8 spinal cord contusion, which were subjected to combined transplantation of bone morphogenetic protein-4-induced glial-restricted precursor-derived astrocytes and human recombinant decorin transplantation.

This combined transplantation promoted axonal regeneration and growth of injured motor and sensory neurons by inhibiting astrocyte proliferation and glial scar formation, with astrocytes forming a linear arrangement in the contused spinal cord, thus providing axonal regeneration channels.

This combined transplantation provides a potential new therapy for experimental research and clinical transformation for the repair of spinal cord injury.

These findings were published in the Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 8, No. 24, 2013).

Wu L, Li JJ, Chen L, Zhang H, Yuan L, Davies SJ. Combined transplantation of astrocytes and decorin in spinal cord contusion repair. Neural Regen Res. 2013;8(24):2236-2248.