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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1999;468:207-24.

Neurite outgrowth inhibitors in gliotic tissue.

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  • 1Neural Plasticity Group, Cajal Institute, Madrid, Spain.


Gliotic tissue is the major obstacle to axon regeneration after CNS injury. We designed tissue culture assays to search for molecules responsible for neurite outgrowth inhibition in gliotic tissue. All the inhibitory activity in injured brain tissue was located in a plasma membrane heparan-sulphate and condroitin-sulphate type-proteoglycan of apparent molecular weight 200 kDalton. The proteoglycan core protein (apparent MW 48,000 kD) was biologically inactive, whereas the glycosamine-glycan (GAG) chains accounted for the inhibitory activity. Because of its cell location and mode of induction, the inhibitor was called injured membrane proteoglycan, IMP. IMP prevented neurite outgrowth initiation when attached to the culture substrate and caused growth cone collapse when added in solution to neurons with already growing neurites. We concluded that IMP was responsible for preventing injured CNS fibre regeneration. Double-staining immunohistochemistry of normal and gliotic tissue with anti-IMP monoclonal antibodies together with glial and neuronal markers, permitted the unequivocal definition of inhibitor presenting cells by confocal microscopy. IMP-immunostaining in normal CNS was observed exclusively on neurons. However, after a lesion, immunostaining occurred primarily on intensely GFAP-positive reactive astrocytes, but not on OX-42 positive microglia. The availability of antibodies permitted rapid affinity-purification of the neurite inhibitor and comparison with similar molecules possibly expressed during development. IMP itself or a highly related form, was expressed in embryonic brain, reaching maximal expression around postnatal day 3 and decreasing strongly in normal adult tissue. Perinatal rat brain proteoglycans inhibited neurite outgrowth similarly, though not identically, to IMP. Our data suggest that perinatal membrane and injured membrane proteoglycans may differ in GAG composition. IMP-like immunoreactivity was also found in developing brain, predominantly in neurons in normal brain, associating after a lesion with reactive astrocytes. Thes results suggest that injury evokes re-expression of IMP previously expressed during CNS development. One of the monoclonal antibodies to IMP blocked inhibitory activity, restoring neurite outgrowth in vitro. We are currently preparing Fab fragments to test the possibility that the antibody may block inhibition of central sprout growth in vivo. The combined use of blocking antibody fragments to neurite outgrowth inhibitors and transplants of growth-promoting glia, may help in the repair brain and spinal cord lesions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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