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Day 208: Know your spinal cord – Ependymocytes

ependymal cells
ependymal cells

Ependymal cells, which create cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), line the ventricles of the brain and central canal of the spinal cord. These cells are cuboidal to columnar and have cilia and microvilli on their surfaces to circulate and absorb CSF.

We made it to yet another milestone, day fifty in our know your spinal cord series! As usual, you can find each and every one of these posts neatly organized in reverse chronological order using our neuroanatomy category. For the past couple of posts, we’ve introduced the types of glial cells, probably a bit poorly, but they are just so complex we can only really focus on a few of the functions. Needless to say they are very important cells. Today we are talking about the third (of four) types of glial cells found in the spinal cord (and brain), that is the ependymocyte. Let’s take a look.

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Day 207: Know your spinal cord – Astrocytes

upregulated spinal cord astrocytes
upregulated spinal cord astrocytes

SNL induces MCP-1 upregulation in spinal cord astrocytes (A–C)MCP-1 expression in the spinal cord of naïve animals (A) and SNL animals at 3 days (B) and 10 days (C). Scale bar, 200 μm. (D–F) High magnification images of (A–C), indicated in the white boxes of A–C, show the dorsal horn of the ipsilateral spinal cord. Scale bar, 100 μm. (G–I) Double staining shows that MCP-1 is colocalized with GFAP, a marker for astrocytes (G), but not with NeuN, a marker for neurons (H) or OX42, marker for microglia (I). Scale bar, 50 μm. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3623-08.2009

Day forty-nine in the spinal cord series! You can find all the posts in this series in our super useful neuroanatomy category. A couple of posts back we introduced glial scarring, one of the problems we need to overcome to help people with spinal cord injuries. That led to the realization that we needed to introduce the glial cells, so yesterday we covered the oligodendrocytes and today we are talking about the astrocyte. Now that we have some background of how we got here, let’s introduce today’s topic.

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Day 206: Know your spinal cord – Oligodendrocytes

Oligodendrocyte wrapped around axons of several nerves

Oligodendrocyte wrapped around axons of several nerves

We made it to day forty-eight! As always, the neuroanatomy category will help you find each and every post in the spinal cord series. It’s all really good stuff! We mentioned yesterday that this was coming, we’re going to do a quick breakdown of the types of glial cells just to make understanding the glial scarring post easier. Plus it helps to understand the functions of glial cells in general when we talk about things that could go wrong. With that, let’s get into oligodendrocytes!

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Day 205: Know your spinal cord – Glial scarring

Spinal cord regeneration
Spinal cord regeneration

Previously injured nerve fibers (red) are shown regrowing through a dense astrocyte scar (green). UCLA research shows that astrocyte scars actually help support nerve fiber regeneration. You can read more about the study from UCLA here.

Here we are at day forty-seven of spinal cord posts. We are definitely wrapping up our series sad to say, maybe we can get to day fifty, that would be a nice round number to stop at. For those of you who want to read all the other posts, the neuroanatomy category has everything in reverse chronological order and will teach you everything from the medullary pyramids, the cauda equina, and all the stuff in between. Today we are talking about glial scarring and why it’s such a problem a topic I realized we should touch on after talking about the problems with invasive spinal stimulation methods yesterday.

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Day 204: Know your spinal cord – Invasive stimulation techniques

paddle implant

It’s day forty-six in our spinal cord series. While we’re nearing the end (maybe), there are still a few things to cover. First, if you’re new, you can find all of the posts in the neuroanatomy category for when you need a quick spinal cord fix. I’ve been debating about this post for some time, but I figure we might as well cover it since we’re here. Today we are going to talk briefly about invasive spinal stimulation and what the future might hold.

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Day 203: Know your spinal cord – Compound action potentials

Action potential recording
Action potential recording

Image from: Get body smart

Day forty-five of the know your spinal cord series is here! With so many posts, you may be wondering how to find them all. Fear not, we have a super helpful neuroanatomy category for all your spinal cord needs. For the past few posts we’ve looked at some very interesting tools to probe the spinal cord. We’ve seen that there are quite a few ways we can go about it, but more importantly they all tell us something slightly different. Today we are looking at the product of that stimulation, the compound action potential.

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Day 202: Know your spinal cord – Transcutaneous Spinal Stimulation

TSS model

Welcome to day forty-four in the know your spinal cord series! As usual all of our posts are in a super easy to find neuroanatomy category. Now that we’ve covered our into into diagnostic tools to probe the spinal cord, let’s look at some of the ways we are working to help treat spinal cord injuries. Today we’re looking at a heavy hitter so to speak and something my research is focused on, transcutaneous spinal stimulation (TSS). Let’s take a look!

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Day 201: Know your spinal cord – The V-wave

spine

We’ve made it to day forty-three of our know your spinal cord series! While that is a lot of posts, we’ve made it super simple for you to find all of them with our neuroanatomy category. Lately, we’ve looked at several different tools in our spinal cord probing toolbox. We’ve seen all sorts of different ways to create a response, but we are still missing one important tool for our exploration into the unknown spinal cord world and that is what we are going to talk about today!

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Day 200: Know your spinal cord – Somatosensory evoked potentials

Somatosensory Evoked Potentials
Somatosensory Evoked Potentials

Somatosensory evoked potentials travel from peripheral nerves to the brain and we can record the response along the spinal cord and the brain non-invasively.

We’re back again with day forty-two of spinal cord knowledge series and day 200 in our 365 days of academia series! A friendly reminder that you can find each and every one of these posts in our very helpful neuroanatomy category. Yesterday we looked at motor evoked potentials, or electrical pulses that we create which travel from the brain to the muscles. Today we are looking at the almost reverse, signals we create originating in the peripheral nerves and arriving at the somatosensory cortex of the brain.

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Day 199: Know your spinal cord – Motor evoked potentials

Transcutaneous magnetic stimulation of the brain
Transcutaneous magnetic stimulation of the brain

Transcutaneous magnetic stimulation (left) stimulating a portion of the motor cortex, which travels down the spine and activates a muscle (right)

Day forty-one in the know your spinal cord series. While the number of posts is going up, we made them easy to find by using our awesome neuroanatomy category! Maybe we did this a bit backwards, but it’s our series and this was the order we did it in. Yesterday we covered cervicomedullary motor evoked potentials, which is a subset of what we will be covering today. So again, slightly out of order, but hey let’s look at motor evoked potentials.

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Day 198: Know your spinal cord – Cervicomedullary motor evoked potentials

Brainstem

Brainstem

We made it, day forty in the know your spinal cord series! I honestly didn’t think we would get this far into things, but here we are. As per usual, if you’re new you can find all of the posts in this series in our super helpful neuroanatomy category! For the rest of you, or the ones interested in this topic, today we are looking at yet another tool in uncovering the secrets of the spinal cord.

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Day 197: Know your spinal cord – The F-wave

H-reflex vs F-wave

It’s day thirty-nine of our know your spinal cord series and we’re only touching the surface (so to speak)! If you’re just joining us, then welcome! You can find all of our spinal cord knowledge in the handy neuroanatomy category. Well as these things typically happen, yesterday brought up an interesting gap in our knowledge base. While I introduced the H-reflex, we never talked about the F-wave! So of course yesterday’s post probably left some of you scratching your head as to what an F-wave even is, fear not we’re going to clear that up today!

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Day 196: Review – Changes in Motoneuron Excitability during Voluntary Muscle Activity in Humans with Spinal Cord Injury

Figure 1
Figure 1

Figure 1. Experimental setup. A, Schematic representation of the hand showing the ulnar nerve and F-waves recorded from the first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle. B, On the left side, schematic representation of the head showing the electrodes placed at the cervicomedullary junction and on the right side a raw trace showing a cervicomedullary motor evoked potential (CMEP). C, A cartoon showing the concept of the visual feedback. Individuals were tested at rest (left single horizontal line) and during 5% (middle double horizontal lines) and 30% (right double horizontal lines) of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC).

A little detour from our spinal cord series for my fourth critical review paper. As usual, my PI get a copy and so do all of you! You can read my first looking at elbow spinal stretch reflexes here. My second where I review modulating spinal cord excitability with a static magnetic field here. Or the third where I review modulating the H-reflex while walking in spinal cord injury populations. Today is an interesting paper on motoneuron excitability while walking in spinal cord injury populations. It’s a really cool paper, so here’s my review.

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Day 195: Know your spinal cord – The spinotectal tract

Anterolateral-view-of-lumbar-spinal-cord

Welcome to day thirty-eight in the know your spinal cord series. As always, you can find the entire know your spinal cord series exclusively listed under our neuroanatomy category. We’ve amassed quite a bit of spinal information and I’ve gotten into more detail than I originally planned, which is part of the reason why we are going back and covering some of the things we skipped over. Today is one of those topics, we will be talking about the spinotectal tract, not to be confused with the tectospinal tract, which we already covered.

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Day 194: Know your spinal cord – The spinoreticular tract

vertebrae of the spine

vertebrae of the spine

We’ve arrived at day thirty-seven in the spinal cord series and we’re still covering new ground. You can find all of our sweet spinal cord action in the neuroanatomy category, which at this point is pretty extensive for a high-level look. Yesterday we talked about the reticulospinal tracts so today we are talking about the sister tract, the spinoreticular tract. Are they related, or is it all just in the name?

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Day 193: Know your spinal cord – The reticulospinal tracts

reconstruction of the nuclear masses of the brain stem
reconstruction of the nuclear masses of the brain stem

Reconstruction of the nuclear masses of the brain stem

It’s day thirty-six in our spinal cord series and I yesterday I lied, we’re not done quite yet. First, as always we have a super helpful neuroanatomy category for anyone wanting to read the posts from this series. For the rest of us, today we’re talking about the reticulospinal tracts, yes tracts with an s. There is a good reason for this, but you’ll have to read on to see why. (more…)


Day 192: Know your spinal cord – The Tectospinal tract

Cervical spinal cord cross-section

Cervical spinal cord cross-section

Welcome to day thirty-five in the know your spinal cord series! For the new people, we have a whole neuroanatomy category dedicated to these posts! For everyone else (or those of you just interested in today’s topic, this is going to be on another smaller tract of the spinal cord we haven’t covered yet. Today we are talking about the tectospinal tract, not to be confused with the spinotectal tract, so let’s get started.

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Day 191: Know your spinal cord – The Vestibulospinal tract

cranial nerves
cranial nerves

No, we’re not moving away from the spine, but we are talking about the cranial nerves.

It’s day thirty-four in our spinal cord series. As usual, if you’re new here welcome and you can find each and every post in our series in the handy neuroanatomy category! All the posts are in reverse chronological order and while we don’t technically have a specific order, you should probably start with the medullary pyramids and work your way forward. If you’re here, then you probably are interested in the vestibulospinal tract, something we haven’t covered yet, but fear not, we are going to do that now.

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Day 190: Know your spinal cord – The landmarks

human cervical spinal cord cross section
human cervical spinal cord cross section

A human cervical spinal cord slice. Once you’ve read this post, you should be able to identify the major parts and tell which side is the front of the cord.

Welcome to day thirty-three in our series. For those of you who are just finding us, we have every one of these posts in our neuroanatomy category in reverse chronological order. Today we’re going to backtract (get it?) a little and go over something basic, but something we’ve skipped over to this point. We never really talked about the landmarks of a spinal cord slice. So today, we are going to take a detour and go over spinal cord features.

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Day 189: Know your spinal cord – The Ramus

dorsal rami innervation

Today is day thirty-two in our know your spinal cord series. If you’re just joining in, as I usually do in the intro, we have a whole neuroanatomy category just for these posts so you don’t have to dig for them! Today we are covering a couple of structures that fall under the same broad category, ramus. What are they and what do they have to do with the spinal cord? Well that’s what we’re about to find out!

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Day 188: Know your spinal cord – The spinal nerves (revisited)

spinal roots

spinal roots

Here we are at day thirty one of knowing your spinal cord and we’re still going strong. I’m very happy that I cataloged all of these posts in the super handy neuroanatomy category, which should make it easy for you to find each and every one of them! Today we’re talking about something we’ve touched on in the past, but deserves its own post, the spinal nerves. We need to cover this for the next couple of posts, where things get a little… odd. So let’s get started!

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Day 187: Know your spinal cord – The anterior white commissure

Cross section of human spinal cord
Cross section of human spinal cord

Cross section through human spinal cord (lumbar region, L1) showing motor neurons. Astrocytes and oligodendrocytes are labeled ‘A’ and ‘O’, respectively. The objective magnification used is 40x.

Welcome to day thirty of knowing your spinal cord. I feel like that is a lot of spinal cord knowledge for just covering the basics. In any case, if you’re just finding us, welcome! I’ve created a whole new neuroanatomy category just for these posts so you can find them easy and they are in reverse chronological order. Is the anterior white commissure a tract of the spinal cord? Well not really, but it does have an important job and we keep referencing it, so let’s talk about what it does exactly.

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Day 186: Know your spinal cord – The spino-olivary tract

Spinal cord slice
Spinal cord slice

Spinal cord anatomy

Day twenty-nine, wow does time fly! We have over four weeks worth of fun spinal knowledge for you to tap into, all in reverse chronological order in our handy neuroanatomy category! If you read the title, you know we’re back on tract (see what I did there?). Today we’re talking the spino-olivary tract, or is it the olivospinal tract? Keep reading to find out!

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Day 185: Know your spinal cord – Cauda equina syndrome

Cuada equina disection

Here we are on day twenty-eight of knowing your spinal cord. A friendly reminder, the entire series has its own neuroanatomy category where you can catch up on any posts you missed or if you just want a reminder on something we already covered. We’ve already covered quite a bit of spinal disorders, but there is one more that I want to talk about and like our series where we started at the top of the cord and worked our way down, we are now going to cover damage to the bottom of the cord, specifically the cauda equina.

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