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Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2003 Sep;49(6):885-97.

Nitric oxide synthase, an essential factor in peripheral nerve regeneration.

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Institute of Medical Neurobiology, University of Magdeburg. Leipziger Strasse 44, D-39120 Magdeburg, Germany.


Nitric oxide (NO) exerts both, pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic actions and appears to be acritical factor inneuronal degenerative and regenerative processes. NO is synthesized from L-arginine by NO synthase occurring in three isoforms of (neuronal, nNOS; endothelial, eNOS; inducible, iNOS). In a mice sciatic nerve model the regenerative outcome was assessed when the endogenous NO supply was deficient by knocking out the respective NOS isoform and compared to that of wild type mice after nerve transection. In nNOS knock-out mice a delay in regeneration, preceded by slowedWallerian degeneration and a disturbed pruning of uncontrolled sprouts, was observed. This was associated with a delayed recovery of sensory and motor function. Additionally, deficiency of nNOS led after nerve cut to a substantial loss of small and medium-sized dorsal root ganglia neurons, spinal cord interneurons and, to a lesser extent, spinal cord motor neurons. A lack of iNOS resulted in a delayed Wallerian degeneration and impaired regenerative outcome without consequences for neuronal survival. A lack of eNOS was well tolerated, although a delay in nerve revascularization was observed. Thus, after peripheral nerve lesion, regular NOS activity is essential for cell survival and recovery with reference to the nNOS isoform.

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