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Exp Neurol. 2008 Aug;212(2):552-6. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2008.04.015. Epub 2008 Apr 23.

Neurotrophin-3 deficient Schwann cells impair nerve regeneration.

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Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine and Public Health, The Ohio State University, USA.


Neurotrophin 3 (NT-3) is an important autocrine factor supporting Schwann cell (SC) survival and differentiation in the absence of axons. Prior studies have failed to define the explicit role of SC versus axon in NT-3 deficiency in relation to nerve regeneration and associated remyelination. In the paradigm we studied, using NT-3 heterozygous (NT3(+/-)) knockout mice capable of survival into adult-life, the experimental design provided a model uniquely capable of differentiating SC/axon influences. In these studies we first identified a defect in nerve regeneration characterized by fewer SCs in the regenerating nerve fibers of crushed sciatic nerves of NT3(+/-) mice. Subsequent experiments differentiated SC versus axonal influences as the culprit in defective nerve regeneration using sciatic nerve transplant paradigms. Results show an impairment in nerve regeneration in NT3(+/-) mice with a retardation of the myelination process, and this defect is associated with decreased SC survival and an increase in the neurofilament packing density of regenerating axons. These observations indicate that NT3(+/-) status of the SCs, but not of the axons, is responsible for impaired nerve regeneration and that NT-3 is essential for SC survival in early stages of regeneration-associated myelination in the adult peripheral nerve.

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