Brumley, 2017

2017 - Invited review to Current Pharmaceutical Design. | Volume 23, Issue 12, 2017

Multilevel analysis of locomotion in immature preparations suggests innovative strategies to reactivate stepping after spinal cord injury

Brumley MR, Guertin PA, Taccola G. 


Locomotion is one of the most complex motor behaviors. Locomotor patterns change during early life, reflecting development of numerous peripheral and hierarchically organized central structures. Among them, the spinal cord is of particular interest since it houses the central pattern generator (CPG) for locomotion. This main command center is capable of eliciting and coordinating complex series of rhythmic neural signals sent to motoneurons and to corresponding target-muscles for basic locomotor activity. For a long-time, the CPG has been considered a black box. In recent years, complementary insights from in vitro and in vivo animal models have contributed significantly to a better understanding of its constituents, properties and ways to recover locomotion after a spinal cord injury (SCI). This review discusses key findings made by comparing the results of in vitro isolated spinal cord preparations and spinal-transected in vivo models from neonatal animals. Pharmacological, electrical, and sensory stimulation approaches largely used to further understand CPG function may also soon become therapeutic tools for potent CPG reactivation and locomotor movement induction in persons with SCI or developmental neuromuscular disorder.


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