The reaction of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) after spinal cord injury (SCI) is poorly understood. In this study, we examined oligodendroglial reactions after contusion SCI in adult rats by immunohistochemistry. OPCs were identified by staining with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) A2B5 and O4. Each of the A2B5-, O4-positive OPCs and galactocerebroside-positive oligodendrocytes dramatically increased in the lesion of the dorsal posterior funiculus. Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation studies showed that most O4-positive cells in the lesion were labeled with BrdU, suggesting that these OPCs were proliferative. In contrast, the expression of myelin basic protein was decreased in the lesion compared with controls that received laminectomy only. From the injured cord, OPCs were isolated by immunopanning with mAb A2B5. We observed an increased number of OPCs from the injured spinal cords compared with those isolated from controls and unoperated animals. After several days in culture, the OPCs from the lesion expressed galactocerebroside. These results suggest that OPCs are induced and can differentiate following SCI in the adult rat.
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