The Effects of Curcumin on Glial Morphology Following Spinal Cord Injury in Lampreys

Issue: 
2019
Institution: 
Earlham College, Richmond Indiana 47374

Reactive and consequently scar-forming glial cells, particularly astrocytes, are implicated in the inability of mammalian spinal cords to regenerate following spinal cord injury (SCI). Thus, it is relevant to study pharmacological methods of manipulating these cells, which could result in efficacious treatments for SCI in humans. The current study used larval sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus), because lampreys can functionally recover from a spinal cord transection, making them a relevant model organism for studying how the process of physiological recovery may be sped up. Lampreys were given either a single injection of 27 μM curcumin, an established anti- inflammatory compound, or a vehicle not containing curcumin immediately following spinal cord transection and allowed to recover for 24 hours or one week. To assess the effects of curcumin on glial cells, spinal cord slices were labeled with an anti-cytokeratin antibody, LCM29, that labels lamprey glial cytoskeleton. There were no significant differences in immunoreactivity of the LCM29 antibody between vehicle- and curcumin-injected groups as measured by mean pixel value, or as measured by the standard deviations of these means. Despite the overall lack of significant main effects of curcumin according to these quantitative measures, there were distinct visual differences between spinal cord slices from curcumin- and vehicle-injected animals. While curcumin did not affect the overall levels of glial filaments, it may affect the uniformity of location of these filaments by attenuating the development of darker patches (decreased expression of glial filaments) and brighter patches (increased expression of glial filaments) seen in slices from vehicle-injected lampreys. Future studies should continue investigating curcumin for its ability or inability to attenuate reactive glial cells and explore new methods for quantifying glial reactivity.

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