The paradox of chronic neuroinflammation, systemic immune suppression, autoimmunity after traumatic chronic spinal cord injury.
Schwab JM, Zhang Y, Kopp MA, Brommer B, Popovich PG
During the transition from acute to chronic stages of recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI), there is an evolving state of immunologic dysfunction that exacerbates the problems associated with the more clinically obvious neurologic deficits. Since injury directly affects cells embedded within the "immune privileged/specialized" milieu of the spinal cord, maladaptive or inefficient responses are likely to occur. Collectively, these responses qualify as part of the continuum of "SCI disease" and are important therapeutic targets to improve neural repair and neurological outcome. Generic immune suppressive therapies have been largely unsuccessful, mostly because inflammation and immunity exert both beneficial (plasticity enhancing) and detrimental (e.g. glia- and neurodegenerative; secondary damage) effects and these functions change over time. Moreover, "compartimentalized" investigations, limited to only intraspinal inflammation and associated cellular or molecular changes in the spinal cord, neglect the reality that the structure and function of the CNS are influenced by systemic immune challenges and that the immune system is 'hardwired' into the nervous system. Here, we consider this interplay during the progression from acute to chronic SCI. Specifically, we survey impaired/non-resolving intraspinal inflammation and the paradox of systemic inflammatory responses in the context of ongoing chronic immune suppression and autoimmunity. The concepts of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), compensatory anti-inflammatory response syndrome (CARS) and "neurogenic" spinal cord injury-induced immune depression syndrome (SCI-IDS) are discussed as determinants of impaired "host-defense" and trauma-induced autoimmunity.