Lars Olson, Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

Feeding the spinal cord by keeping the blood flow alive

Funded in: 2009, 2010, 2011


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The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a physical separation between the circulating blood (which brings oxygenation and nutrients) and the central nervous system. This separation shields the central nervous system from external aggressions.

After a spinal cord injury this barrier is physically ruptured and in an attempt to repair it, two types of growth factors are expressed (epidermal growth factor and platelet derived growth factor). The growth factors expression is on the other hand activating a special type of structural cells supposed to keep the CNS architecture intact which are labelled as astrocytes.

This activation however, unfortunately, has the unexpected effect of delaying the repair of the blood-brain barrier, and potentially propagates the initial damage that is done to the spinal cord (bigger loss of functions like movement and sensation). This project tests the hypothesis if the suppression of the mentioned growth factors will restore the integrity of the blood brain barrier and results in a minor loss of functions due to less intruding inflammation and oedema formation.