Cerebellar function is critical for coordinating movement and motor learning. However, events occurring in the cerebellum following spinal cord injury (SCI) have not been investigated in detail. We provide evidence of SCI-induced cerebellar synaptic changes involving a loss of granule cell parallel fiber input to distal regions of the Purkinje cell dendritic tree. This is accompanied by an apparent increase in synaptic contacts to Purkinje cell proximal dendrites, presumably from climbing fibers originating in the inferior olive. We also observed an early stage injury-induced decrease in the levels of cerebellin-1, a synaptic organizing molecule that is critical for establishing and maintaining parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synaptic integrity. Interestingly, this transsynaptic reorganizational pattern is consistent with that reported during development and in certain transgenic mouse models. To our knowledge, such a reorganizational event has not been described in response to SCI in adult rats. Regardless, the novel results of this study are important for understanding SCI-induced synaptic changes in the cerebellum, which may prove critical for strategies focusing on promoting functional recovery.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
This study was funded by support from the Morton Cure Paralysis Fund and an endowment from Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.
Visavadiya, Nishant P. and Springer, Joe E., "Altered Cerebellar Circuitry Following Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury in Adult Rats" (2016). Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Faculty Publications. 3.