Discovering the Reparative and Destructive Qualities of Macrophages in Spinal Cord Injuries

By Rachel Lutz

Macrophages – the cells that warn of attacks from viruses, bacteria, or fungi ‑ work double duty in spinal cord injuries to promote cell repair as well as pathological functions, according to research published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

“We know from previous research that macrophages are versatile, and signals at the injury site can stimulate repair or destruction – or confusingly, both,” John Gensel PhD, Assistant Professor of Physiology in the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center at the University of Kentucky, explained in a press release. “But the mechanisms through which these signals stimulate the good and/ or bad functions in macrophages are not known. So the next big question to answer in the efforts to understand and treat spinal cord injury was, ‘Why?’”

Researchers from Vanderbilt University explored underlying mechanisms in macrophages in order to determine the in vivo consequences of activating the receptors following spinal cord injuries. More than 50 in vivo and in vitro animal models of spinal cord injury were used in the analysis. Researchers aimed to identify particularly which macrophage receptors promoted neuronal regeneration and repair, as well as those which mitigated the destructive processes.


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