Axonal and glial responses to a mid-thoracic spinal cord hemisection in the Macaca fascicularis monkey.

Journal of Neurotrauma

PubMedID: 23421822

Wu W, Wu W, Zou J, Shi F, Yang S, Liu Y, Lu P, Ma Z, Zhu H, Xu XM. Axonal and glial responses to a mid-thoracic spinal cord hemisection in the Macaca fascicularis monkey. J Neurotrauma. 2013;30(10):826-39.
A comprehensive understanding of the pathology of spinal cord injury (SCI) in non-human primates may facilitate greatly the development of new strategies to promote recovery in humans with SCI. Relatively few studies, however, have been conducted to systemically examine pathological changes in the monkey, a non-human primate, after SCI. We report axonal, glial, and fibrotic responses in the spinal cord of monkey Macaca fascicularis after a thoracic (T) 8-9 lateral hemisection. We examined these changes at three regions--i.e., the lesion epicenter, the peri-lesion area, and the lateral white matter of the intact, contralateral hemicord at 7 (subacute) and 30 (early chronic) days post-injury. The lateral hemisection resulted in a marked axon and myelin loss, along with tissue loss, at the lesion epicenter at both time points. Unexpectedly, axonal loss and myelin degeneration, along with reactive gliosis and microglia/macrophages activation, were also observed in the contralateral spared hemicord, indicating a spread of the initial damage to the contralateral side. In addition, activated microglia/macrophages were found both within the injury epicenter and the peri-lesion area, indicating that they participate in injury-induced immune responses that may exacerbate the secondary damage. In contrast to rodents, substantial reactive astrocytic responses at the lesion border were not observed in the monkey. Conversely, a deposit of robust fibrotic scar was observed at the injury epicenter, which filled the space originally created by the hemisection. Thus, understanding the pathology of monkey SCI may provide clinically relevant information in designing repair strategies targeting specific problems associated with human SCIs.