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Exp Neurol. 2007 Feb;203(2):568-78. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Presence of alpha-globin mRNA and migration of bone marrow cells after sciatic nerve injury suggests their participation in the degeneration/regeneration process.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry and Institute of Biological and Physical Chemistry (IQUIFIB), School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires-CONICET, Junin 956, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


We have previously reported that in the distal stump of ligated sciatic nerves, there is a change in the distribution of myelin basic protein (MBP) and P0 protein immunoreactivities. These results agreed with the studies of myelin isolated from the distal stump of animals submitted to ligation of the sciatic nerve, showing a gradual increase in a 14 kDa band with an electrophoretic mobility similar to that of an MBP isoform, among other changes. This band, which was resolved into two bands of 14 and 15 kDa using a 16% gel, was found to contain a mixture of MBP fragments and peptides with great homology with alpha- and beta-globins. In agreement with these results, we have demonstrated that the mRNA of alpha-globin is present in the proximal and distal stumps of the ligated nerve. It is also detected at very low levels in Schwann cells isolated from normal nerves. These results could be due to the presence of alpha- and/or beta-globin arising from immature cells of the erythroid series. Also, they could be present in macrophages, which spontaneously migrate to the injured nerve to promote the degradation of myelin proteins. Cells isolated from normal adult rat bone marrow which were injected intraortically were found to migrate to the injured area. These cells could contribute to the remyelination of the damaged area participating in the removal of myelin debris, through their transdifferentiation into Schwann cells or through their fusion with preexisting Schwann cells in the distal stump of the injured sciatic nerve.

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