Remodeling dendritic spines for treatment of traumatic brain injury

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Neural Regen Res


Traumatic brain injury is an important global public health problem. Traumatic brain injury not only causes neural cell death, but also induces dendritic spine degeneration. Spared neurons from cell death in the injured brain may exhibit dendrite damage, dendritic spine degeneration, mature spine loss, synapse loss, and impairment of activity. Dendritic degeneration and synapse loss may significantly contribute to functional impairments and neurological disorders following traumatic brain injury. Normal function of the nervous system depends on maintenance of the functionally intact synaptic connections between the presynaptic and postsynaptic spines from neurons and their target cells. During synaptic plasticity, the numbers and shapes of dendritic spines undergo dynamic reorganization. Enlargement of spine heads and the formation and stabilization of new spines are associated with long-term potentiation, while spine shrinkage and retraction are associated with long-term depression. Consolidation of memory is associated with remodeling and growth of preexisting synapses and the formation of new synapses. To date, there is no effective treatment to prevent dendritic degeneration and synapse loss. This review outlines the current data related to treatments targeting dendritic spines that propose to enhance spine remodeling and improve functional recovery after traumatic brain injury. The mechanisms underlying proposed beneficial effects of therapy targeting dendritic spines remain elusive, possibly including blocking activation of Cofilin induced by beta amyloid, Ras activation, and inhibition of GSK-3 signaling pathway. Further understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying synaptic degeneration/loss following traumatic brain injury will advance the understanding of the pathophysiology induced by traumatic brain injury and may lead to the development of novel treatments for traumatic brain injury.

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