Study Design. Expression of light chain 3 (LC3), a characteristic marker of autophagy, was examined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot using a spinal cord injury (SCI) model in mice. Electron microscopic analysis was also performed to examine the anatomic formation of autophagy and autophagic cell death in the injured spinal cord. Objective. To examine both biochemically and anatomically the activity of autophagy in the damaged neural tissue after SCI. Summary of Background Data. Autophagy is the bulk degradation of intracellular proteins and organelles, and it is involved in a number of diseases. Autophagy can lead to nonapoptotic programmed cell death, which is called autophagic cell death. Recent researches have revealed the increased expression of LC3 and the anatomic formation of autophagy and autophagic cell death in damaged tissues of various disease models. However, previous studies have focused on apoptotic process but not autophagic activity as mechanism of neural tissue damage after SCI. To date, there has been no study to examine the expression of LC3 and the anatomic formation of autophagy after SCI. Methods. The spinal cord was hemitransected at T10 in adult female C57BL/6J mice. The LC3 expression was examined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot. The anatomic formation of autophagic activity was investigated using electron microscopy. Results. Immunohistochemistry showed that the number of the LC3-positive cells significantly increased at the lesion site after hemisection. The increase of LC3-positive cells was observed from 4 hours and peaked at 3 days, and it lasted for at least 21 days after hemisection. The LC3-positive cells were observed in neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Western blot analysis demonstrated that the level of LC3-II protein expression significantly increased in the injured spinal cord. Electron microscopy showed the formation of autophagic vacuoles to increase in the damaged cells. Furthermore, the nuclei in the transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling-positive cells expressed LC3 were round, which is consistent with autophagic cell death, and they were neither shrunken nor fragmented as is observed in apoptotic nuclei. Conclusion. This study suggested both biochemically and anatomically that autophagy was clearly activated and autophagic cell death was induced in the damaged neural tissue after SCI.
- autophagic cell death
- spinal cord injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Clinical Neurology