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Dev Neurobiol. 2011 Nov;71(11):1054-72. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20950.

Integrins and the extracellular matrix: key mediators of development and regeneration of the sensory nervous system.

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Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, United Kingdom.


The somatosensory nervous system is responsible for the transmission of a multitude of sensory information from specialized receptors in the periphery to the central nervous system. Sensory afferents can potentially be damaged at several sites: in the peripheral nerve; the dorsal root; or the dorsal columns of the spinal cord; and the success of regeneration depends on the site of injury. The regeneration of peripheral nerve branches following injury is relatively successful compared to central branches. This is largely attributed to the presence of neurotrophic factors and a Schwann cell basement membrane rich in permissive extracellular matrix (ECM) components which promote axonal regeneration in the peripheral nerve. Modulation of the ECM environment and/or neuronal integrins may enhance regenerative potential of sensory neurons following peripheral or central nerve injury or disease. This review describes the interactions between integrins and ECM molecules (particularly the growth supportive ligands, laminin, and fibronectin; and the growth inhibitory chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs)) during development and regeneration of sensory neurons following physical injury or neuropathy.

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