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New Insights into Glial Scar Formation after Spinal Cord Injury

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Amanda Tran, Philippa Warren, Jerry Silver

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Early online date2 Jun 2021
Accepted/In press20 May 2021
E-pub ahead of print2 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: JS was funded by NINDS (NS25713), the Ohio Department of Higher Education-Third Frontier Program, the Brumagin-Nelson Fund, Kaneko Family Fund, and the Hong Kong Spinal Cord Injury Fund. APT is funded by the Brotman Baty Institute. PMW is funded by a King’s Prize Fellowship and a research grant from the Medical Research Council (UKRI MR/S011110/1). Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s). Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


King's Authors


Severe spinal cord injury causes permanent loss of function and sensation throughout the body. The trauma causes a multifaceted torrent of pathophysiological processes which ultimately act to form a complex structure, permanently remodeling the cellular architecture and extracellular matrix. This structure is traditionally termed the glial/fibrotic scar. Similar cellular formations occur following stroke, infection and neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) signifying their fundamental importance to preservation of function. It is increasingly recognized that the scar performs multiple roles affecting recovery following traumatic injury. Innovative research into the properties of this structure is imperative to the development of treatment strategies to recover motor function and sensation following CNS trauma. In this review, we summarize how the regeneration potential of the CNS alters across phyla and age through formation of scar like structures. We describe how new insights from next generation sequencing technologies have yielded a more complex portrait of the molecular mechanisms governing the astrocyte, microglial, and neuronal responses to injury and development, especially of the glial component of the scar. Finally, we discuss possible combinatorial therapeutic approaches centering on scar modulation to restore function after severe CNS injury.

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