Dorsal root injury results in substantial and often irreversible loss of sensory functions as a result of the limited regenerative capacity of sensory axons and the inhibitory barriers that prevent both axonal entry into and regeneration in the spinal cord. Here, we describe previously unknown effects of the growth factor artemin after crush injury of the dorsal spinal nerve roots in rats. Artemin not only promoted re-entry of multiple classes of sensory fibers into the spinal cord and re-establishment of synaptic function and simple behavior, but it also, surprisingly, promoted the recovery of complex behavior. These effects occurred after a 2-week schedule of intermittent, systemic administration of artemin and persisted for at least 6 months following treatment, suggesting a substantial translational advantage. Systemic artemin administration produced essentially complete and persistent restoration of nociceptive and sensorimotor functions, and could represent a promising therapy that may effectively promote sensory neuronal regeneration and functional recovery after injury.
ASJC Scopus subject areas