Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) enhances tissue sparing and functional recovery following moderate spinal cord injury

Alexander G. Rabchevsky, Isabella Fugaccia, Anita Fletcher-Turner, Deborah A. Blades, Mark P. Mattson, Stephen W. Scheff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The rapid increase in basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) production following spinal cord injury (SCI) in rats is thought to serve a role in the cellular processes responsible for the functional recovery often observed. In this study, bFGF was intrathecally administered continuously for I week beginning 30 min after a moderate (12.5 mm) spinal cord contusion in adult rats using the New York University impactor device. Osmotic minipumps were implanted into the lateral ventricle and lumbar thecal sac to deliver bFGF at a rate of 3 μg or 6 μg per day versus control vehicle. Animals were behaviorally tested for 6 weeks using the Basso, Beattie, Bresnahan locomotor rating scale and histologically assessed for both tissue sparing and glial reactivity rostral and caudal to the lesion. Rats treated with bFGF regained coordinated hindlimb movements earlier than controls and demonstrated consistent coordination from 4 to 6 weeks. Vehicle-treated rats showed only modest improvements in hindlimb function. The amount of spared tissue was significantly higher in bFGF-treated rats than in controls. Astrocyte and microglial reactivity was more pronounced in bFGF-treated animals versus controls. In summary, intrathecal infusion of exogenous bFGF following SCI significantly reduces tissue damage and enhances functional recovery. Early pharmacological intervention with bFGF following SCI may serve a neuroprotective role and/or create a proregenerative environment, possibly by modulating the neuroglial response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-830
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Astrocytes
  • Behavior
  • GFAP
  • Microglia
  • OX-42
  • Tissue sparing
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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