King's College London

Research portal

Plasticity induced recovery of breathing occurs at chronic stages after cervical contusion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Philippa Mary Warren, Warren Joseph Alilain

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1985-1999
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number12
Early online date19 Feb 2019
Accepted/In press13 Dec 2018
E-pub ahead of print19 Feb 2019
PublishedJun 2019


King's Authors


Severe midcervical contusion injury causes profound deficits throughout the respiratory motor system that last from acute to chronic time points post-injury. We use chondroitinase ABC (ChABC) to digest chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans within the extracellular matrix (ECM) surrounding the respiratory system at both acute and chronic time points post-injury to explore whether augmentation of plasticity can recover normal motor function. We demonstrate that, regardless of time post-injury or treatment application, the lesion cavity remains consistent, showing little regeneration or neuroprotection within our model. Through electromyography (EMG) recordings of multiple inspiratory muscles, however, we show that application of the enzyme at chronic time points post-injury initiates the recovery of normal breathing in previously paralyzed respiratory muscles. This reduced the need for compensatory activity throughout the motor system. Application of ChABC at acute time points recovered only modest amounts of respiratory function. To further understand this effect, we assessed the anatomical mechanism of this recovery. Increased EMG activity in previously paralyzed muscles was brought about by activation of spared bulbospinal pathways through the site of injury and/or sprouting of spared serotonergic fibers from the contralateral side of the cord. Accordingly, we demonstrate that alterations to the ECM and augmentation of plasticity at chronic time points post-cervical contusion can cause functional recovery of the respiratory motor system and reveal mechanistic evidence of the pathways that govern this effect.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454