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Brain Res Bull. 1988 Feb;20(2):223-31.

Optic axons regenerate into sciatic nerve isografts only in the presence of Schwann cells.

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Anatomy Department, Guy's Hospital Medical School, London, UK.


Optic axons regenerate into normal but not acellular peripheral nerve (PN) grafts. The first axons penetrate the PN graft before 5 days and grow inside the basal lamina tubes amongst the Schwann cells. By 30 days, 4% of the surviving retinal ganglion cells (RGC) regenerate axons for at least 10 mm into the PN graft. Laminin rich basal lamina tubes persist in the acellular PN transplants but only a few axons penetrate the most proximal parts of the tubes by 5 days and none grow farther into the graft by 30 days. RGC counts demonstrate that 34% of the normal RGC population survive 30 days after anastomosing a normal PN to the transected optic nerve. After anastomosing acellular PN grafts, 25% of RGCs survive compared with 10% after optic nerve section. These findings demonstrate that laminin does not promote regeneration of axons and that Schwann cells play the primary role of offering trophic support and even a substrate for growth. RGC survival is also enhanced by PN grafts even when Schwann cells are absent. This latter result suggests that RGC survival is promoted by a trophic substance released from axons and/or Schwann cells in the PN grafts which survives the thawing/freezing procedure (used to kill the Schwann cells) and is active in the grafts in the immediate post operative period.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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