Role of neurotrophins in recovery of phrenic motor function following spinal cord injury

Gary C. Sieck, Carlos B. Mantilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Many individuals who sustain a cervical spinal cord injury are unable to maintain adequate ventilation due to diaphragm muscle paralysis. These patients become dependent on mechanical ventilators and this situation is associated with ongoing problems with pulmonary clearance, infections, and lung injury leading to significant morbidity and reduced life expectancy. Therefore, functional recovery of rhythmic phrenic activity and the ability to generate expulsive forces would dramatically affect the quality of life of patients with cervical spinal cord injury. Neurotrophins are very promising in that they have been shown to play an important role in modulating functional neuroplasticity. Specifically, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) acting via the tropomyosin-related kinase receptor type B (TrkB) has been implicated in neuroplasticity following spinal cord injury. Our central hypothesis is that functional recovery of rhythmic phrenic activity after cervical spinal cord injury is enhanced by an increase in BDNF/TrkB signaling in phrenic motoneurons, providing a novel therapeutic target for patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-225
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 30 2009


  • Diaphragm
  • Neuregulin
  • Neurotrophin
  • Respiratory muscles
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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