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Brain Pathol. 2001 Jan;11(1):27-38.

Differential recruitment of CD8+ macrophages during Wallerian degeneration in the peripheral and central nervous system.

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Department of Neurology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.


The strong macrophage response occurring during Wallerian degeneration in the peripheral but not central nervous system has been implicated in tissue remodeling and growth factor production as key requirements for successful axonal regeneration. We have previously identified a population of CD8+ phagocytes in ischemic brain lesions that differed in its recruitment pattern from CD4+ macrophages/microglia found in other lesion paradigms. In the present study we show that crush injury to the sciatic nerve induced strong infiltration by CD8+ macrophages both at the crush site and into the degenerating distal nerve stump. At the crush site, CD8+ macrophages appeared within 24 hours whereas infiltration of the distal nerve parenchyma was delayed to the second week. CD8+ macrophages were ED1+ and CD11b+ but always MHC class II-. Most CD8+ macrophages coexpressed CD4 while a significant number of CD4+/CD8-macrophages was also present. Expression of the resident tissue macrophage marker ED2 was largely restricted to the CD4+/CD8- population. Following intraorbital crush injury to the optic nerve, infiltration of CD8+ macrophages was strictly confined to the crush site. Taken together, our study demonstrates considerable spatiotemporal diversity of CD8+ macrophage responses to axotomy in the peripheral and central nervous system that may have implications for the different extent of axonal regeneration observed in both systems.

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