Laboratory of Spinal Cord Regenerative Medicine

The goal of the Laboratory of Spinal Cord Regenerative Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine is to study mechanisms underlying traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries (SCI and TBI, respectively) and to develop novel repair strategies to promote neural reorganization and functional recovery in experimental models of these injuries.

Active Research

The laboratory's long-term goal is to translate promising treatment strategies from animal models to humans. To reach this goal, two lines of research are being conducted. The first line of research is on neuroprotection. Our lab was among the first to report programmed cell death (or apoptosis) following acute SCI, and to report phospholipase A2 (PLA2) as a key mediator of the secondary SCI. The second line of research is on axonal plasticity, remodeling and regeneration. To bridge the gap of damaged spinal cord, we were among the first to transplant Schwann cells (SCs) into the lesion gap to promote axonal regeneration and recovery of function following SCI. In addition to SCs, we extent our cell therapy to include oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) and human embryonic stem cell-derived glial progenitors (hESC-GPs) in their ability to support neural circuit remodeling and recovery of function. These cell-based strategies are combined with other efficacious treatments (e.g., exercise training, small therapeutic molecules, and nanoparticles) on boosting intrinsic and extrinsic regenerative capacities. We are particularly interested in promoting regeneration and/or reorganization of descending motor pathways including the corticospinal tract (CST), the rubrospinal tract (RST) and the descending propriospinal tract (dPST). In our research, we apply cutting-edge and multidisciplinary approaches including novel injury models, cellular and molecular biology, in vivo imaging, optogenetics, electrophysiology, behavioral, and histology/immunohistochemistry approaches.
  • Key Publications
    1. Wang Y, Wu W, Wu X, Sun Y, Zhang YP, Deng L-X, Walker MJ, Qu W, Chen C, Liu NL, Han Q, Dai H, Lisa B.E. Shields LBE, Shields CB, Sengelaub DR, Jones KJ, Smith GM, and Xu X-M* (2018) Remodeling of lumbar motor circuitry remote to a thoracic spinal cord injury promotes locomotor recovery. eLife Sept. 12, 2018; doi: 10.7554/eLife.39016.
    2. Han Q, Ordaz JD, Liu N, Richardson Z, Wu W, Xia Y, Qu W, Wang Y, Dai H, Zhang YP, Shields CB, Smith GM, Xu X-M* (2019) Descending motor circuitry required for NT-3 mediated locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury in mice. Nat. Comm. 10 (1) 1-16,
    3. Qu W, Liu N-K, Wu X, Wang Y, Xia Y, Sun Y, Lai Y, Li R, Shekhar A, and Xu X-M* (2020) Disrupting nNOS-PSD95 interaction improves neurological recovery following traumatic brain injury Cerebral Cortex. 30 (7) 3859-3871,2020
    4. Han Q, Xie Y., Ordaz JD, Huh AJ, Huang N, Wu W, Liu N, Chamberlain KA, Sheng Z-H, Xu X-M* (2020) Recovering energy deficits promotes CNS axonal regeneration and functional restoration after spinal cord injury Cell Metabolism 31 (3) 623-641, March 3, 2020. DOI:
    5. Tai W+, Wu W+; Wang L-L*, Ni H, Chen C, Yang J, Zou Y, Xu X-M*; Zhang C-L* (2021) Latent neurogenic potential of NG2 glia enables adult neurogenesis and functional recovery following spinal cord injury Cell Stem Cell (CELL-STEM-CELL-D-20-00557R1, accepted) (*co-corresponding authors)