Browsing by Author "Wikstén, Markus"

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  • Wikstén, Markus (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Since the 1980 s, laminin-1 has been linked to regeneration of the central nervous system (CNS) and promotion of neuronal migration and axon guidance during CNS development. In this thesis, we clarify the role of γ1 laminin and its KDI tripeptide in development of human embryonic spinal cord, in regeneration of adult rat spinal cord injury (SCI), in kainic acid-induced neuronal death, and in the spinal cord tissue of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We demonstrated that γ1 laminin together with α1, β1, and β3 laminins localize at the floor plate region in human embryonic spinal cord. This localization of γ1 laminin is in spatial and temporal correlation with development of the spinal cord and indicates that γ1 laminin may participate in commissural axon guidance during the embryonic development of the human CNS. With in vitro studies using the Matrigel culture system, we demonstrated that the KDI tripeptide of γ1 laminin provides a chemotrophic guidance cue for neurites of the human embryonic dorsal spinal cord, verifying the functional ability of γ1 laminin to guide commissural axons. Results from our experimental SCI model demonstrate that the KDI tripeptide enhanced functional recovery and promoted neurite outgrowth across the mechanically injured area in the adult rat spinal cord. Furthermore, our findings indicate that the KDI tripeptide as a non-competitive inhibitor of the ionotropic glutamate receptors can provide when administered in adequate concentrations an effective method to protect neurons against glutamate-induced excitotoxic cell death. Human postmortem samples were used to study motor neuron disease, ALS (IV), and the study revealed that in human ALS spinal cord, γ1 laminin was selectively over-expressed by reactive astrocytes, and that this over-expression may correlate with disease severity. The multiple ways by which γ1 laminin and its KDI tripeptide provide neurotrophic protection and enhance neuronal viability suggest that the over-expression of γ1 laminin may be a glial attempt to provide protection for neurons against ALS pathology. The KDI tripeptide is effective therapeutically thus far in animal models only. However, because KDI containing γ1 laminin exists naturally in the human CNS, KDI therapies are unlikely to be toxic or allergenic. Results from our animal models are encouraging, with no toxic side-effects detected even at high concentrations, but the ultimate confirmation can be achieved only after clinical trials. More research is still needed until the KDI tripeptide is refined into a clinically applicable method to treat various neurological disorders.