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Can J Neurol Sci. 2004 May;31(2):142-56.

Canadian Association of Neuroscience review: axonal regeneration in the peripheral and central nervous systems--current issues and advances.

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  • 1Centre for Neuroscience, Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.


Injured nerves regenerate their axons in the peripheral (PNS) but not the central nervous system (CNS). The contrasting capacities have been attributed to the growth permissive Schwann cells in the PNS and the growth inhibitory environment of the oligodendrocytes in the CNS. In the current review, we first contrast the robust regenerative response of injured PNS neurons with the weak response of the CNS neurons, and the capacity of Schwann cells and not the oligodendrocytes to support axonal regeneration. We then consider the factors that limit axonal regeneration in both the PNS and CNS. Limiting factors in the PNS include slow regeneration of axons across the injury site, progressive decline in the regenerative capacity of axotomized neurons (chronic axotomy) and progressive failure of denervated Schwann cells to support axonal regeneration (chronic denervation). In the CNS on the other hand, it is the poor regenerative response of neurons, the inhibitory proteins that are expressed by oligodendrocytes and act via a common receptor on CNS neurons, and the formation of the glial scar that prevent axonal regeneration in the CNS. Strategies to overcome these limitations in the PNS are considered in detail and contrasted with strategies in the CNS.

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