Decorin blocks scarring and cystic cavitation in acute and induces scar dissolution in chronic spinal cord wounds.
In the injured central nervous system (CNS), transforming growth factor (TGF)-?1/2-induced scarring and wound cavitation impede axon regeneration implying that a combination of both scar suppression and axogenic treatments is required to achieve functional recovery. After treating acute and chronic dorsal funicular spinal cord lesions (DFL) in adult rats with the pan-TGF?1/2 antagonist Decorin, we report that in: (1), acute DFL, the development of all injury parameters was significantly retarded e.g., wound cavitation by 68%, encapsulation of the wound by a glia limitans accessoria (GLA) by 65%, GLA basal lamina thickness by 94%, fibronectin, NG2 and Sema-3A deposition by 87%, 48% and 48%, respectively, and both macrophage and reactive microglia accumulation by 60%; and (2), chronic DFL, all the above parameters were attenuated to a lesser extent e.g., wound cavitation by 11%, GLA encapsulation by 25%, GLA basal lamina thickness by 31%, extracellular fibronectin, NG2 and Sema-3A deposition by 58%, 22% and 29%, respectively, and macrophage and reactive microglia accumulation by 44%. Moreover, in acute and chronic DFL, levels of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) were raised (by 236% and 482%, respectively), as were active-MMP-2 (by 64% and 91%, respectively) and active-MMP-9 (by 122% and 18%, respectively), while plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) was suppressed (by 56% and 23%, respectively) and active-TIMP-and active TIMP-2 were both lower but only significantly suppressed in acute DFL (by 56 and 21%, respectively). These findings demonstrate that both scar tissue mass and cavitation are attenuated in acute and chronic spinal cord wounds by Decorin treatment and suggest that the dominant effect of Decorin during acute scarring is anti-fibrogenic through suppression of inflammatory fibrosis by neutralisation of TGF?1/2 whereas, in chronic lesions, Decorin-induction of tPA and MMP (concomitant with reduced complimentary levels of TIMP and PAI-1) leads to dissolution of the mature established scar by fibrolysis. Decorin also promoted the regeneration of similar numbers of axons through acute and chronic wounds. Accordingly, intrathecal delivery of Decorin offers a potential translatable treatment for scar tissue attenuation in patients with spinal cord injury.