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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jul 18;103(29):11057-62. Epub 2006 Jul 17.

Sialidase enhances spinal axon outgrowth in vivo.

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Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 725 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


The adult CNS is an inhibitory environment for axon outgrowth, severely limiting recovery from traumatic injury. This limitation is due, in part, to endogenous axon regeneration inhibitors (ARIs) that accumulate at CNS injury sites. ARIs include myelin-associated glycoprotein, Nogo, oligodendrocyte-myelin glycoprotein, and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs). Some ARIs bind to specific receptors on the axon growth cone to halt outgrowth. Reversing or blocking the actions of ARIs may promote recovery after CNS injury. We report that treatment with sialidase, an enzyme that cleaves one class of axonal receptors for myelin-associated glycoprotein, enhances spinal axon outgrowth into implanted peripheral nerve grafts in a rat model of brachial plexus avulsion, a traumatic injury in which nerve roots are torn from the spinal cord. Repair using peripheral nerve grafts is a promising restorative surgical treatment in humans, although functional improvement remains limited. To model brachial plexus avulsion in the rat, C8 nerve roots were cut flush to the spinal cord and a peroneal nerve graft was inserted into the lateral spinal cord at the lesion site. Infusion of Clostridium perfringens sialidase to the injury site markedly increased the number of spinal axons that grew into the graft (2.6-fold). Chondroitinase ABC, an enzyme that cleaves a different ARI (CSPGs), also enhanced axon outgrowth in this model. In contrast, phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C, which cleaves oligodendrocyte-myelin glycoprotein and Nogo receptors, was without benefit. Molecular therapies targeting sialoglycoconjugates and CSPGs may aid functional recovery after brachial plexus avulsion or other nervous system injuries and diseases.

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