Unilateral Pyramidotomy of the Corticospinal Tract in Rats for Assessment of Neuroplasticity-inducing Therapies

Claudia Kathe*, Thomas H Hutson, Qin Chen, Harold D Shine, Stephen B McMahon, Lawrence D F Moon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The corticospinal tract (CST) can be completely severed unilaterally in the medullary pyramids of the rodent brainstem. The CST is a motor tract that has great importance for distal muscle control in humans and, to a lesser extent, in rodents. A unilateral cut of one pyramid results in loss of CST innervation of the spinal cord mainly on the contralateral side of the spinal cord leading to transient motor disability in the forelimbs and sustained loss of dexterity. Ipsilateral projections of the corticospinal tract are minor. We have refined our surgical method to increase the chances of lesion completeness. We describe postsurgical care. Deficits on the Montoya staircase pellet reaching test and the horizontal ladder test shown here are detected up to 8 weeks postinjury. Deficits on the cylinder rearing test are only detected transiently. Therefore, the cylinder test may only be suitable for detection of short term recovery. We show how, electrophysiologically and anatomically, one may assess lesions and plastic changes. We also describe how to analyse fibers from the uninjured CST sprouting across the midline into the deprived areas. It is challenging to obtain >90% complete lesions consistently due to the proximity to the basilar artery in the medulla oblongata and survival rates can be low. Alternative surgical approaches and behavioural testing are described in this protocol. The pyramidotomy model is a good tool for assessing neuroplasticity-inducing treatments, which increase sprouting of intact fibers after injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere51843
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number94
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2014

Keywords

  • Central nervous system lesions
  • Corticospinal tract lesion
  • Forelimb function
  • In vivo
  • Issue 94
  • Neuroscience
  • Pyramids
  • Unilateral spinal cord injury

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