By: 4 April 2016
Interleukin protein improves mobility after spinal cord injuries

Interleukin protein improves mobility after spinal cord injuries

New research has shown for the first time that an interleukin (IL) protein can suppress the inflammatory response after a spinal cord injury and minimise spinal tissue degeneration and functional disabilities. Although IL-37 was identified 15 years ago, studying its function has proven difficult as it is not synthesised in mice.


Section of an injured mouse spinal cord. Image credit: UAB








A team led by Rubén López – of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) department of cell biology, physiology and immunology – used a genetically modified mouse that produces the human form of IL-37 to study the function of this protein. They showed that if IL-37 is administered immediately after the injury, the mice recover a certain degree of mobility.

This work has led to the discovery of a new therapeutic strategy to treat acute spinal cord injuries, for which currently there is no effective treatment available for clinical use. The research could also open the door to treatments for other neurodegenerative illnesses, as the inflammatory response also plays a major role in these.

The study, published recently in the online version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was carried out at the UAB, with collaboration from Radboud University Medical Center (the Netherlands), University of Colorado (USA) and Maximilian University of Munich (Germany).

Reference: Marina Coll-Miró, and others; Beneficial effects of IL-37 after spinal cord injury in mice; Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1523212113

Source: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona