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Respiratory plasticity following spinal cord injury: perspectives from mouse to man

1 Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, Drexel University; Marion Murray Spinal Cord Research Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA
2 Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
3 Marion Murray Spinal Cord Research Center, Philadelphia, PA; Cardiovascular Disease, Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Michael A Lane,
PhD, Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, Drexel University; Marion Murray Spinal Cord Research Center, Philadelphia, PA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1673-5374.335839

The study of respiratory plasticity in animal models spans decades. At the bench, researchers use an array of techniques aimed at harnessing the power of plasticity within the central nervous system to restore respiration following spinal cord injury. This field of research is highly clinically relevant. People living with cervical spinal cord injury at or above the level of the phrenic motoneuron pool at spinal levels C3–C5 typically have significant impairments in breathing which may require assisted ventilation. Those who are ventilator dependent are at an increased risk of ventilator-associated co-morbidities and have a drastically reduced life expectancy. Pre-clinical research examining respiratory plasticity in animal models has laid the groundwork for clinical trials. Despite how widely researched this injury is in animal models, relatively few treatments have broken through the preclinical barrier. The three goals of this present review are to define plasticity as it pertains to respiratory function post-spinal cord injury, discuss plasticity models of spinal cord injury used in research, and explore the shift from preclinical to clinical research. By investigating current targets of respiratory plasticity research, we hope to illuminate preclinical work that can influence future clinical investigations and the advancement of treatments for spinal cord injury.

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