The supraspinal connectome consists of dozens of neuronal populations that project axons from the brain to the spinal cord to influence a wide range of motor, autonomic, and sensory functions. The complexity and wide distribution of supraspinal neurons present significant technical challenges, leading most spinal cord injury research to focus on a handful of major pathways such as the corticospinal, rubrospinal, and raphespinal. Much less is known about many additional populations that carry information to modulate or compensate for these main pathways, or which carry pre-autonomic and other information of high value to individuals with spinal injury. A confluence of technical developments, however, now enables a whole-connectome study of spinal cord injury. Improved viral labeling, tissue clearing, and automated registration to 3D atlases can quantify supraspinal neurons throughout the murine brain, offering a practical means to track responses to injury and treatment on an unprecedented scale. Here we discuss the need for expanded connectome-wide analyses in spinal injury research, illustrate the potential by discussing a new web-based resource for brain-wide study of supraspinal neurons, and highlight future prospects for connectome analyses.
Blackmore, Murray G.; Batsel, Eliazbeth; and Tsoulfas, Pantelis, "Widening Spinal Injury Research to Consider All Supraspinal Cell Types: Why We must and How We Can" (2021). Biomedical Sciences Faculty Research and Publications. 208.
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