Bone Marrow-Derived Monocytes Drive the Inflammatory Microenvironment in Local and Remote Regions after Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury

Diana M. Norden, Timothy D. Faw, Daniel B. McKim, Rochelle J. Deibert, Lesley C. Fisher, John F. Sheridan, Jonathan P. Godbout, D. Michele Basso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spinal cord injury (SCI) produces a toxic inflammatory microenvironment that negatively affects plasticity and recovery. Recently, we showed glial activation and peripheral myeloid cell infiltration extending beyond the epicenter through the remote lumbar cord after thoracic SCI. The presence and role of infiltrating monocytes is important, especially in the lumbar cord where locomotor central pattern generators are housed. Therefore, we compared the inflammatory profile of resident microglia and peripheral myeloid cells after SCI. Bone marrow chimeras received midthoracic contusive SCI, and trafficking was determined 1-7 days later. Fluorescence-activated cell (FAC) sorting showed similar infiltration timing of both neutrophils and macrophages in epicenter and lumbar regions. While neutrophil numbers were attenuated by day 3, macrophages remained unchanged at day 7, suggesting that macrophages have important long-term influence on the microenvironment. Nanostring gene array identified a strong proinflammatory profile of infiltrating macrophages relative to microglia at both epicenter and lumbar sites. Macrophages had elevated expression of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IFNγ), chemokines (CCL2, CXCL2), mediators (COX-1, MMP-9), and receptors (CCR2, Ly6C), and decreased expression of growth promoting genes (GDNF, BDNF). Importantly, lumbar macrophages had elevated expression of active trafficking genes (CCR2, l-selectin, MMP-9) compared with epicenter macrophages. Further, acute rehabilitation exacerbated the inflammatory profile of infiltrated macrophages in the lumbar cord. Such high inflammatory potential and negative response to rehabilitation of infiltrating macrophages within lumbar locomotor central pattern generators likely impedes activity-dependent recovery. Therefore, limiting active trafficking of macrophages into the lumbar cord identifies a novel target for SCI therapies to improve locomotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)937-949
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • acute rehabilitation
  • inflammation
  • macrophage
  • spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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