A polysialic acid mimetic peptide promotes functional recovery in a mouse model of spinal cord injury

Philippe Marino, Jean Chrétien Norreel, Melitta Schachner, Geneviève Rougon, Marie Claude Amoureux

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41 Scopus citations


Contrary to lower species that recapitulate some of the developmental programs, in mammals, functional recovery after spinal cord injury is impaired by a non-permissive environment and the lack of plasticity of adult neurons. The developmental plasticity associated linear homopolymer of alpha 2,8-linked sialic acid (PolySialic Acid, PSA), represents a permissive determinant that could contribute to recovery. We previously showed that a PSA cyclic mimetic peptide (PR-21) displayed PSA-like biological functions (Torregrossa, P., Buhl, L., Bancila, M., Durbec, P., Schafer, C., Schachner, M., Rougon, G., 2004. Selection of poly-alpha 2,8-sialic acid mimotopes from a random phage peptide library and analysis of their bioactivity. J. Biol. Chem. 279, 30707-30714.). In the present study we investigated the therapeutic potential of PR-21 in young adult mice after dorsal hemisection at the T9 level. We show that PR-21 fulfills several criteria for an in vivo use as it is not toxic, not immunogenic and displays good stability in biological fluids or tissue. Delivery of PR-21 to the lesion site decreased the time of the animals' return to continence, and enhanced motor functions, sensorimotor control and coordination of hindlimbs with forelimbs when compared to a control peptide. At the cellular level, PR-21 increased serotonergic axon density at and caudal to the lesion site, and decreased reactive gliosis in vivo. In an in vitro model of reactive astrocytes, PR-21 increased NCAM expression in strongly GFAP positive cells. Our data point to the unique features of a carbohydrate mimicking peptide, and support the notion that PSA can be considered as an important factor in recovery from spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


  • Glial scar
  • Mimetic peptide
  • Polysialic acid-NCAM
  • SCI improvement
  • Serotonergic neurons
  • Spinal cord injury


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