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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 8181393, 5 pages
Research Article

Altered Cerebellar Circuitry following Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury in Adult Rats

1Department of Biomedical Sciences, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614, USA
2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536, USA

Received 7 May 2016; Accepted 20 June 2016

Academic Editor: Bae H. Lee

Copyright © 2016 Nishant P. Visavadiya and Joe E. Springer. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cerebellar function is critical for coordinating movement and motor learning. However, events occurring in the cerebellum following spinal cord injury (SCI) have not been investigated in detail. We provide evidence of SCI-induced cerebellar synaptic changes involving a loss of granule cell parallel fiber input to distal regions of the Purkinje cell dendritic tree. This is accompanied by an apparent increase in synaptic contacts to Purkinje cell proximal dendrites, presumably from climbing fibers originating in the inferior olive. We also observed an early stage injury-induced decrease in the levels of cerebellin-1, a synaptic organizing molecule that is critical for establishing and maintaining parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synaptic integrity. Interestingly, this transsynaptic reorganizational pattern is consistent with that reported during development and in certain transgenic mouse models. To our knowledge, such a reorganizational event has not been described in response to SCI in adult rats. Regardless, the novel results of this study are important for understanding SCI-induced synaptic changes in the cerebellum, which may prove critical for strategies focusing on promoting functional recovery.