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Tohyama T, Kinoshita M, Kobayashi K, Isa K, Watanabe D, Kobayashi K, Liu M, Isa T (2017) Contribution of propriospinal neurons to recovery of hand dexterity after corticospinal tract lesions in monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 114(3):604-609    
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There are different views about the targets of regenerative therapies to induce functional recovery in patients with motor paralysis following brain and spinal cord injury: whether we should aim at repairing the injured corticospinal tract or at facilitating compensation by other descending motor pathways. To help answer this question, we used double viral vectors to reversibly and selectively block the propriospinal neurons (PNs), one of the major intercalated neurons mediating cortical commands to motoneurons, in monkeys with partial spinal cord injury. We demonstrated causal roles of the PN-mediated pathway in promoting recovery of hand dexterity after the lesion. Thus, targeting the PNs might lead to developing effective treatment to facilitate recovery after spinal cord injury
Abstract
The direct cortico-motoneuronal connection is believed to be essential for the control of dexterous hand movements, such as precision grip in primates. It was reported, however, that even after lesion of the corticospinal tract (CST) at the C4–C5 segment, precision grip largely recovered within 1–3 mo, suggesting that the recovery depends on transmission through intercalated neurons rostral to the lesion, such as the propriospinal neurons (PNs) in the midcervical segments. To obtain direct evidence for the contribution of PNs to recovery after CST lesion, we applied a pathway-selective and reversible blocking method using double viral vectors to the PNs in six monkeys after CST lesions at C4–C5. In four monkeys that showed nearly full or partial recovery, transient blockade of PN transmission after recovery caused partial impairment of precision grip. In the other two monkeys, CST lesions were made under continuous blockade of PN transmission that outlasted the entire period of postoperative observation (3–4.5 mo). In these monkeys, precision grip recovery was not achieved. These results provide evidence for causal contribution of the PNs to recovery of hand dexterity after CST lesions; PN transmission is necessary for promoting the initial stage recovery; however, their contribution is only partial once the recovery is achieved