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Hum Mol Genet. 2011 Jul 1;20(13):2662-72. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr168. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Peripheral nerve pathology, including aberrant Schwann cell differentiation, is ameliorated by doxycycline in a laminin-α2-deficient mouse model of congenital muscular dystrophy.

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Neuromuscular Biology and Disease Group, Boston Biomedical Research Institute, 64 Grove Street,Watertown, MA 02472, USA.


The most common form of childhood congenital muscular dystrophy, Type 1A (MDC1A), is caused by mutations in the human LAMA2 gene that encodes the laminin-α2 subunit. In addition to skeletal muscle deficits, MDC1A patients typically show a loss of peripheral nerve function. To identify the mechanisms underlying this loss of nerve function, we have examined pathology and cell differentiation in sciatic nerves and ventral roots of the laminin-α2-deficient (Lama2(-/-)) mice, which are models for MDC1A. We found that, compared with wild-type, sciatic nerves of Lama2(-/-) mice had a significant increase in both proliferating (Ki67+) cells and premyelinating (Oct6+) Schwann cells, but also had a significant decrease in both immature/non-myelinating [glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)(+)] and myelinating (Krox20+) Schwann cells. To extend our previous work in which we found that doxycycline, which has multiple effects on mammalian cells, improves motor behavior and more than doubles the median life-span of Lama2(-/-) mice, we also determined how nerve pathology was affected by doxycycline treatment. We found that myelinating (Krox20+) Schwann cells were significantly increased in doxycycline-treated compared with untreated sciatic nerves. In addition, doxycycline-treated peripheral nerves had significantly less pathology as measured by assays such as amount of unmyelinated or disorganized axons. This study thus identified aberrant proliferation and differentiation of Schwann cells as key components of pathogenesis in peripheral nerves and provided proof-of-concept that pharmaceutical therapy can be of potential benefit for peripheral nerve dysfunction in MDC1A.

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