Elena Esra Keller and Katia Monastyrskaya, Spinal Cord Injury and Tissue Regeneration Center Salzburg, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria

Leukotriene system as a pleiotropic target to promote spinal cord, urinary bladder structural and functional regeneration

Funded in: 2019, 2020, 2021


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Problem: Therapies for bladder and bowel dysfunction in SCI are not curative and have various side effects

Target: Blocking leukotriene system promotes regeneration of the spinal cord and improve bladder and bowel function

Goal: Treatment will improve spinal cord regeneration and bladder and bowel function

Introduction: Besides the obvious motor and sensory deficits, drastic restraints in quality of life after spinal cord injury (SCI) occur and one of the main causes for reduced life expectancy of SCI patients is the loss of bladder control and its consequences, particularly high risk for bladder and kidney infections. Next to the bladder, also the gastrointestinal tract undergoes pathological changes after SCI that can lead to severe bowel problems that reduce the quality of life of the affected person. The current therapies for bladder and bowel dysfunction have various side effects that can lead to a discontinuation of therapy. Moreover, they are not curative and don’t address the underlying cause of the dysfunctions. Thus, there is an urgent, unmet need for new therapies for SCI-based bladder and bowel dysfunctions and focus should lie on treatment of the underlying disease cause.

Problem statement: Inflammation, in particular the so-called leukotriene system, has been identified as a pleiotropic target to foster organ regeneration. Here, the team wants to test if blocking the leukotriene system is likely to promote regeneration of the spinal cord and improve bladder and bowel function.

Methods: The hypothesis is tested in a rodent SCI model with primary focus on functional outcomes of the spinal cord, bladder and bowel. The research group will also identify the underlying mechanisms through gene and protein analysis.

Expected results: The expectation is that the treatment will improve spinal cord regeneration and bladder and bowel function in our rodent SCI model.

Potential application: Finally, this may open up a new treatment option for SCI patients based on spinal cord regeneration and improvement of SCI-based bladder and/or bowel function.