The rodent rubrospinal tract (RST) has been studied extensively to investigate regeneration and remodeling of central nervous system (CNS) axons. Currently no retrograde tracers can specifically label rubrospinal axons and neurons (RSNs). The RST can be anterogradely labeled by injecting tracers into the red nucleus (RN), but accurately locating the RN is a technical challenge. Here we developed a recombinant adenovirus carrying a green fluorescent protein reporter gene (Adv-GFP) which can preferentially, intensely, and bi-directionally label the RST. When Adv-GFP was injected into the second lumbar spinal cord, the GFP was specifically transported throughout the entire RST, with peak labeling seen at 2 weeks post-injection. When Adv-GFP was injected directly into the RN, GFP was anterogradely transported throughout the RST. Following spinal cord injury (SCI), injection of Adv-GFP resulted in visualization of GFP in transected, spared, or sprouted RST axons bi-directionally. Thus Adv-GFP could be used as a novel tool for monitoring and evaluating strategies designed to maximize RST axonal regeneration and remodeling following SCI.
- adenovirus-green fluorescent protein
- rubrospinal tract
- spinal cord injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology