Increased survival and reinnervation of cervical motoneurons by riluzole after avulsion of the C7 ventral root.J Neurotrauma. 2010 Dec; 27(12):2273-82.JN
Although adult motoneurons do not die if their axons are injured at some distance from the cell body, they are unable to survive injury caused by ventral root avulsion. Some of the injured motoneurons can be rescued if the ventral root is re-inserted into the spinal cord. Brachial plexus injuries that involve the complete or partial avulsion of one or more cervical ventral roots can be treated successfully only if satisfactory numbers of motoneurons remain alive following such an injury at the time of reconstructive surgery. Here we investigated the various strategies that could be used to rescue injured rat cervical motoneurons. The seventh cervical ventral root (C7) was avulsed and various therapeutic approaches were applied to induce motoneuronal survival and regeneration. Avulsion of the root without reimplantation resulted in very low numbers of surviving motoneurons (65 ± 8 SEM), while treatment of the injured motoneurons with riluzole resulted in high numbers of surviving motoneurons (637 ± 26 SEM). When the C7 ventral root was reimplanted or a peripheral nerve implant was used to guide the regenerating axons to a muscle, considerable numbers of motoneurons regenerated their axons (211 ± 15 SEM and 274 ± 28 SEM, respectively). Much greater numbers of axons regenerated when reimplantation was followed by riluzole treatment (573 ± 9 SEM). These results show that injured adult motoneurons can be rescued by riluzole treatment, even if they cannot regenerate their axons. Reinnervation of the peripheral targets can also be further improved with riluzole treatment.