Benefits of chondroitinase abc associated with mesenchymal stem cells in acute spinal cord injury in rats

ABSTRACT The aim of this work was to study the effect of chondroitinase associated with mesenchymal stem cells in acute spinal cord injury. Therefore, 50 Lewis rats were distributed in the following groups: negative control (NC), treatment with placebo (PLA), chondroitinase (CDT), mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), and chondroitinase associated with mesenchymal stem cells (CDT + MSC). All animals had their spinal cord exposed by laminectomy, and the groups named PLA, CDT, MSC and CDT + MSC also suffered compressive spinal cord trauma. After seven days, the spinal cord was re-exposed, when the PLA and MSCs groups received 4uL of artificial cerebrospinal fluid through the lesion, and the CDT group and CDT + MSC received the same fluid containing 2,2U of chondroitinase. 14 days after the first surgery, all animals received 0.2ml of PBS intravenously; however, the MSC and CDT + MSC groups received the same liquid also containing 1x106 MSCs. The motor skills were evaluated up to 28 days post-injury and, subsequently, the spinal cords were analyzed by RT-PCR for BDNF, NT-3, VEGF, PECAM-1 and KDR gene expression quantification, immunohistochemistry to detect injected stem cells GFP (anti-GFP), to quantify neurons (anti-NeuN), GFAP and detect vimentin in order to evaluate the glial scar. Statistical analyzes were performed by Prism 5 for Windows using a 5% level of significance. There was no difference between groups with regarding motor capacity. The CDT + MSC group showed increased immunoreactivity of viable neurons than placebo. In MSC, there was a greater expression of neurotrophic factors BDNF and VEGF. Also, there was less vimentin immunostaining in group CDT. It was concluded that CDT + MSC association promotes neuronal viability after trauma, in which treatment with MSC promotes increased expression of BDNF and VEGF trophic factors, and also that treatment with chondroitinase is effective in reducing the glial scar.