Background: Neuronal Nogo-66 receptor 1 (NgR1) has attracted attention as a converging point for mediating the effects of myelin-associate inhibitory ligands in the CNS, establishing the growth restrictive environment, and limiting axon regeneration following traumatic injury.
Objective: The importance of NgR1 has been undermined by several studies that have shown the lack of substantial axon regeneration following spinal cord injury (SCI) in NgR1 knockout or knockdown animal models. This study aims to investigate the factors that may be contributing to the discrepancy.
Methods: We used mice carrying either a homozygous or heterozygous null mutation in the NgR1 gene and subjected them to either a moderate or severe SCI.
Results: Locomotor function assessments revealed that the level of functional recovery is affected by the degree of injury suffered. NgR1 ablation enhanced local collateral sprouting in the mutant mice. Reactive astrocytes and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) are upregulated surrounding the injury site. MMP-9, which has been shown to degrade CSPGs, was significantly upregulated in the homozygous mutant mice compared to the heterozygous or wild-type mice. However, CSPG levels remained higher in the homozygous compared to the heterozygous mice, suggesting that CSPG-degrading activity of MMP-9 may require the presence of NgR1.
Conclusion: Genetic ablation of NgR1 may lead to significant recovery in locomotor function following SCI. The difference in locomotor recovery we observed between the groups that suffered varying degrees of injury suggests that injury severity may be a confounding factor in functional recovery following SCI.
From: Assessment of NgR1 Function In Vivo After Spinal Cord Injury by Tong et al.