Development of novel therapeutics and in vitro models for spinal cord injury

McGrath, Michael Anthony (2016) Development of novel therapeutics and in vitro models for spinal cord injury. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition, which results from trauma to the cord, resulting in a primary injury response which leads to a secondary injury cascade, causing damage to both glial and neuronal cells. Following trauma, the central nervous system (CNS) fails to regenerate due to a plethora of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Unfortunately, these events lead to loss of both motor and sensory function and lifelong disability and care for sufferers of SCI. There have been tremendous advancements made in our understanding of the mechanisms behind axonal regeneration and remyelination of the damaged cord. These have provided many promising therapeutic targets. However, very few have made it to clinical application, which could potentially be due to inadequate understanding of compound mechanism of action and reliance on poor SCI models. This thesis describes the use of an established neural cell co-culture model of SCI as a medium throughput screen for compounds with potential therapeutic properties. A number of compounds were screened which resulted in a family of compounds, modified heparins, being taken forward for more intense investigation. Modified heparins (mHeps) are made up of the core heparin disaccharide unit with variable sulphation groups on the iduronic acid and glucosamine residues; 2-O-sulphate (C2), 6-O-sulphate (C6) and N-sulphate (N). 2-O-sulphated (mHep6) and N-sulphated (mHep7) heparin isomers were shown to promote both neurite outgrowth and myelination in the SCI model. It was found that both mHeps decreased oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) proliferation and increased oligodendrocyte (OL) number adjacent to the lesion. However, there is a difference in the direct effects on the OL from each of the mHeps; mHep6 increased myelin internode length and mHep7 increased the overall cell size. It was further elucidated that these isoforms interact with and mediate both Wnt and FGF signalling. In OPC monoculture experiments FGF2 treated OPCs displayed increased proliferation but this effect was removed when co-treated with the mHeps. Therefore, suggesting that the mHeps interact with the ligand and inhibit FGF2 signalling. Additionally, it was shown that both mHeps could be partially mediating their effects through the Wnt pathway. mHep effects on both myelination and neurite outgrowth were removed when co-treated with a Wnt signalling inhibitor, suggesting cell signalling mediation by ligand immobilisation and signalling activation as a mechanistic action for the mHeps. However, the initial methods employed in this thesis were not sufficient to provide a more detailed study into the effects the mHeps have on neurite outgrowth. This led to the design and development of a novel microfluidic device (MFD), which provides a platform to study of axonal injury. This novel device is a three chamber device with two chambers converging onto a central open access chamber. This design allows axons from two points of origin to enter a chamber which can be subjected to injury, thus providing a platform in which targeted axonal injury and the regenerative capacity of a compound study can be performed.
In conclusion, this thesis contributes to and advances the study of SCI in two ways; 1) identification and investigation of a novel set of compounds with potential therapeutic potential i.e. desulphated modified heparins. These compounds have multiple therapeutic properties and could revolutionise both the understanding of the basic pathological mechanisms underlying SCI but also be a powered therapeutic option. 2) Development of a novel microfluidic device to study in greater detail axonal biology, specifically, targeted axonal injury and treatment, providing a more representative model of SCI than standard in vitro models. Therefore, the MFD could lead to advancements and the identification of factors and compounds relating to axonal regeneration.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Spinal cord injury, modified Heparin, therapeutics, microfluidic device, in vitro, models, myelination, neurite outgrowth, glial scar, astrocyte, oligodendrocyte, neuron, axon, regeneration, repair, lesion, paralysis, Oligosaccharide, mimetics.
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH345 Biochemistry
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
Supervisor's Name: Barnett, Prof. Susan and Riehle, Dr. Mathis
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Mr Michael McGrath
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7651
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2016 12:41
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2018 13:35

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