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Spinal Injury Scarring Helps Regrow Nerve Cells

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Many California residents incur injuries to their spinal cords in car accidents and other types of incidents. It has been estimated that 12,500 Americans suffer such an injury each year and that upwards of 275,000 U.S. residents are dealing with their long-term effects. Researchers at UCLA have discovered that scars from such injuries could be aiding nerve regrowth.

Astrocytes are support cells that rush to an injury site and begin scar formation. They stop further damage to the tissue around the injury and diminish inflammation. It was previously believed that scarring at the site of a spinal cord injury hindered the regrowth of nerve cells, which are made up of axons that carry nerve impulses to other parts of the body. The researchers have found that blocking normal scar formation makes the outcome worse.

Further study of astrocytes has shown that without the scars they form, axons do not regrow. Spinal injuries in mice that had their astrocyte scars removed showed no axon regrowth. Astrocytes increase this regrowth by bringing growth factors to the site of the injury. A large range of molecules are released by astrocyte and non-astrocyte cells that aid in axon regrowth, as well as block regrowth, at the injury site.

A spinal cord injury can have a devastating effect on a victim. Years of expensive rehabilitation could be required, and in some cases paralysis could be the result. When such an injury is the result of a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, a personal injury attorney might be of assistance in filing a lawsuit seeking appropriate compensation.