X-irradiation reduces lesion scarring at the contusion site of adult rat spinal cord

Shu Xin Zhang, J. W. Geddes, J. L. Owens, E. G. Holmberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in cell death and tissue destruction, and ultimately cavitation followed by the formation of lesion scars at the injury site. The lesion scars include an astrocytic component (glial scar) and a fibroblastic component (connective tissue scar). The purpose of the present study is to determine if X-irradiation could minimize the formation of lesion scars and reduce the levels of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) in the contusion SCI model of the adult rat. Two weeks after SCI, a connective tissue scar formed at the injury site consisting primarily of fibroblasts and exhibits strong CSPG immunoreactivity. The fibroblasts might originate from the connective tissue of pia mater or arachnoid mater. At the same time, reactive astrocytes in the spared tissue accumulate surrounding the lesion cavity to form a thick glial scar with significant enhancement of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and CSPG immunoreactivity. After X-irradiation (40 Gy) of the injury site 2 days post-injury, that results in an attenuated dose to the lesion, the connective tissue scar was not observed, and accordingly, almost no CSPG immunoreactivity was detected at this area. Meanwhile, the glial scar and its CSPG immunoreactivity were prominently reduced. X-irradiation did not show significant improvement in locomotor recovery, but resulted in a slight delay of body weight recovery following injury. This preparative treatment could be used to reduce secondary scarring in the lesion resulting in an enriched site for further treatment such as growth related transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-530
Number of pages12
JournalHistology and Histopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs)
  • Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)
  • Lesion scar
  • Spinal cord injury (SCI)
  • X-irradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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