(1) Background: The botulinum toxin A (BoNT-A) heavy chain (HC) can stimulate the growth of primary motor neurites. (2) Methods: A recombinant BoNT/A HC was injected locally plus interval intrathecal catheter of BoNT/A HC to rats with ipsilateral semi-dissociated lumbar spinal cord injuries (SCIs). First, 2D gel with a silver nitrate stain was applied to detect the general pattern of protein expression. Growth associated protein 43 (GAP-43) and superior cervical ganglion 10 (SCG10) were chosen to represent the altered proteins, based on their molecular weight and pI, and were used to further detect their expression. Meanwhile, the neuronal processes were measured. The measurements of thermal hyperalgesia and grasp power at the ipsilateral hindlimb were used to evaluate spinal sensory and motor function, respectively. (3) Results: The local injection of BoNT/A HC followed by its intrathecal catheter intervally altered the spinal protein expression pattern after an SCI; protein expression was similar to normal levels or displayed a remarkable increase. The changes in the expression and distribution of phosphorylated growth associated protein 43(p-GAP 43) and superior cervical ganglion 10 (SCG 10) indicated that the administration of BoNT/A HC to the SCI significantly amplified the expression of p-GAP43 and SCG10 (p
< 0.05). Meanwhile, the positive immunofluorescent staining for both p-GAP43 and SCG10 was mainly present near the rostral aspect of the injury, both in the cytoplasm and the neuronal processes. Moreover, the outgrowth of neurites was stimulated by the BoNT/A HC treatment; this was evident from the increase in neurite length, number of branches and the percentage of cells with neuronal processes. The results from the spinal function tests suggested that the BoNT/A HC did not affect sensation, but had a large role in improving the ipsilateral hindlimb grasp power (p
< 0.05). (4) Conclusions: The local injection with the intermittent intrathecal administration of BoNT/A heavy chain to rats with SCI increased the local expression of GAP-43 and SCG 10, which might be affiliated with the regeneration of neuronal processes surrounding the injury, and might also be favorable to the relief of spinal motor dysfunction.
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