Toward Functional Restoration of the Central Nervous System: A Review of Translational Neuroscience Principles.
Injury to the central nervous system (CNS) can leave patients with devastating neurological deficits that may permanently impair independence and diminish quality of life. Recent insights into how the CNS responds to injury and reacts to critically timed interventions are being translated into clinical applications that have the capacity to drastically improve outcomes for patients suffering from permanent neurological deficits due to spinal cord injury, stroke, or other CNS disorders. The translation of such knowledge into practical and impactful treatments involves the strategic collaboration between neurosurgeons, clinicians, therapists, scientists, and industry. Therefore, a common understanding of key neuroscientific principles is crucial. Conceptually, current approaches to CNS revitalization can be divided by scale into macroscopic (systems-circuitry) and microscopic (cellular-molecular). Here we review both emerging and well-established tenets that are being utilized to enhance CNS recovery on both levels, and we explore the role of neurosurgeons in developing therapies moving forward. Key principles include plasticity-driven functional recovery, cellular signaling mechanisms in axonal sprouting, critical timing for recovery after injury, and mechanisms of action underlying cellular replacement strategies. We then discuss integrative approaches aimed at synergizing interventions across scales, and we make recommendations for the basis of future clinical trial design. Ultimately, we argue that strategic modulation of microscopic cellular behavior within a macroscopic framework of functional circuitry re-establishment should provide the foundation for most neural restoration strategies, and the early involvement of neurosurgeons in the process will be crucial to successful clinical translation.
Krucoff, MO; Miller, JP; Saxena, T; Bellamkonda, R; Rahimpour, S; Harward, SC; Lad, SP; Turner, DA
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