Transgenic overexpression of the cell adhesion molecule L1 in neurons facilitates recovery after mouse spinal cord injury

I. Jakovcevski, N. Djogo, L. S. Hölters, E. Szpotowicz, M. Schachner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


It has been shown that the X-chromosome-linked neural cell adhesion molecule L1 plays a beneficial role in regeneration after spinal cord injury (SCI) in young adult rodents when applied in various molecular and cellular forms. In an attempt to further characterize the multiple functions of L1 after severe SCI we analyzed locomotor functions and measured axonal regrowth/sprouting and sparing, glial scarring, and synaptic remodeling at 6. weeks after severe spinal cord compression injury at the T7-9 levels of L1-deficient mice (L1-/y) and their wild-type (L1+/y) littermates, as well as mice that overexpress L1 under the control of the neuron-specific Thy-1 promoter (L1tg) and their wild-type littermates (L1+/+). No differences were found in the locomotor scale score and single frame motion analysis between L1-/y and L1+/y mice during 6. weeks after SCI, most likely due to the very low expression of L1 in the adult spinal cord of wild-type mice. L1tg mice, however, showed better locomotor recovery than their L1+/+ littermates, being associated with enhanced numbers of catecholaminergic axons in the lumbar spinal cord, but not of cholinergic, GABAergic or glutamatergic terminals around motoneuron cell bodies in the lumbar spinal cord. Additionally, no difference between L1tg and L1+/+ mice was detectable in dieback of corticospinal tract axons. Neuronal L1 overexpression did not influence the size of the glial fibrillary acidic protein-immunoreactive astrocytic scar 6. weeks after injury. We conclude that neuronal overexpression of L1 improves functional recovery from SCI by increasing catecholaminergic axonal regrowth/sprouting and/or sparing of severed axons without affecting the glial scar size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Nov 2 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • Catecholaminergic innervation
  • Functional recovery
  • Neural cell adhesion molecule L1
  • Neuronal Thy-1 promoter
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Transgenic mice


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