Chondroitinase Combined with Rehabilitation Promotes Recovery of Forelimb Function in Rats with Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Difei Wang, Ronaldo M. Ichiyama, Rongrong Zhao, Melissa Renee Andrews, James W. Fawcett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Citations (Scopus)


Chondroitinase ABC (ChABC) in combination with rehabilitation has been shown to promote functional recovery in acute spinal cord injury. For clinical use, the optimal treatment window is concurrent with the beginning of rehabilitation, usually 2-4 weeks after injury. We show that ChABC is effective when given 4 weeks after injury combined with rehabilitation. After C4 dorsal spinal cord injury, rats received no treatment for 4 weeks. They then received either ChABC or penicillinase control treatment followed by hour-long daily rehabilitation specific for skilled paw reaching. Animals that received both ChABC and task-specific rehabilitation showed the greatest recovery in skilled paw reaching, approaching similar levels to animals that were treated at the time of injury. There was also a modest increase in skilled paw reaching ability in animals receiving task-specific rehabilitation alone. Animals treated with ChABC and task-specific rehabilitation also showed improvement in ladder and beam walking. ChABC increased sprouting of the corticospinal tract, and these sprouts had more vGlut1 (+ve) presynaptic boutons than controls. Animals that received rehabilitation showed an increase in perineuronal net number and staining intensity. Our results indicate that ChABC treatment opens a window of opportunity in chronic spinal cord lesions, allowing rehabilitation to improve functional recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9332-9344
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2011


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