Combining molecular intervention with in vivo imaging to untangle mechanisms of axon pathology and outgrowth following spinal cord injury.
Denecke CK, Aljović A, Bareyre FM
In vivo imaging of the spinal cord has allowed the observation of single axons over relatively long periods in the living mouse. After spinal cord injury, this methodology has helped to differentiate several pathological stages and tissue processes which impact axon morphology. In addition, the combination of in vivo imaging techniques with particular molecular intervention has shown that specific pathological axon changes can respond to distinct treatments. Combining in vivo imaging with molecular interventions is, hence, a powerful approach to extend our knowledge of the pathological processes leading to axonal loss. It also allows testing possible treatment options to, for example, increase axonal outgrowth. This review will provide a detailed description and critical examination of several studies that have combined the two methodologies in spinal cord injury research and pinpoints the specificities of the approach.