Optogenetic surface stimulation of the rat cervical spinal cord


Electrical intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS) at various sites along the cervical spinal cord permits forelimb muscle activation, elicits complex limb movements and may enhance functional recovery after spinal cord injury. Here, we explore optogenetic spinal stimulation (OSS) as a less invasive and cell type-specific alternative to ISMS. To map forelimb muscle activation by OSS in rats, adeno-associated viruses (AAV) carrying the blue-light sensitive ion channels channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) and Chronos were injected into the cervical spinal cord at different depths and volumes. Following an AAV incubation period of several weeks, OSS-induced forelimb muscle activation and movements were assessed at 16 sites along the dorsal surface of the cervical spinal cord. Three distinct movement types were observed. We find that AAV injection volume and depth can be titrated to achieve OSS-based activation of several movements. Optical stimulation of the spinal cord is thus a promising method for dissecting the function of spinal circuitry and targeting therapies following injury.

Journal of neurophysiology
Polina Anikeeva
Polina Anikeeva
Professor in Materials Science and Engineering
Professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Associate Director, Research Laboratory of Electronics

My goal is to combine the current knowledge of biology and nanoelectronics to develop materials and devices for minimally invasive treatments for neurological and neuromuscular diseases.