Traumatic spinal cord injury results in severe and irreversible loss of function. The injury triggers a complex cascade of inflammatory and pathological processes, culminating in the formation of a scar. While traditionally referred to as a glial scar, the spinal injury scar in fact comprises multiple cellular and extracellular components. This multidimensional nature should be considered when aiming to understand the role of scarring in limiting tissue repair and recovery. In this Review we discuss recent advances in understanding the composition and phenotypic characteristics of the spinal injury scar, the oversimplification of defining the scar in binary terms as good or bad, and the development of therapeutic approaches to target scar components to enable improved functional outcome after spinal cord injury.
|Accepted/In press - 25 Jul 2019