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J Neurosci. 2003 Jan 15;23(2):561-7.

Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor alters axon schwann cell units and promotes myelination in unmyelinated nerve fibers.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins Hospital, Department of Neurology, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, and Amgen, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California 91320-1799, USA.


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) plays an important role in the development and maintenance of a subset of dorsal root ganglion sensory neurons. We administered high-dose exogenous recombinant human GDNF (rhGDNF) daily to adult rats to examine its effect on unmyelinated axon-Schwann cell units in intact peripheral nerves. In rhGDNF-treated animals, there was a dramatic proliferation in the Schwann cells of unmyelinated fibers, which resulted in the segregation of many unmyelinated axons into a 1:1 relationship with Schwann cells and myelination of normally unmyelinated small axons. This study demonstrates that the administration of high doses of a growth factor to adult rats can change the phenotype of nerve fibers from unmyelinated to myelinated.

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