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Publication Detail
Characterising cellular and molecular features of human peripheral nerve degeneration
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Wilcox MB, Laranjeira SG, Eriksson TM, Jessen KR, Mirsky R, Quick TJ, Phillips JB
  • Publisher:
    BioMed Central
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
  • Journal:
    Acta Neuropathologica Communications
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
    Published online
  • Country:
  • Print ISSN:
  • PII:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Human tissue, Muscle reinnervation, Nerve transfer, Peripheral nerve degeneration, Schwann cells
Nerve regeneration is a key biological process in those recovering from neural trauma. From animal models it is known that the regenerative capacity of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) relies heavily on the remarkable ability of Schwann cells to undergo a phenotypic shift from a myelinating phenotype to one that is supportive of neural regeneration. In rodents, a great deal is known about the molecules that control this process, such as the transcription factors c-Jun and early growth response protein 2 (EGR2/KROX20), or mark the cells and cellular changes involved, including SOX10 and P75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR). However, ethical and practical challenges associated with studying human nerve injury have meant that little is known about human nerve regeneration.The present study addresses this issue, analysing 34 denervated and five healthy nerve samples from 27 patients retrieved during reconstructive nerve procedures. Using immunohistochemistry and Real-Time quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR), the expression of SOX10, c-Jun, p75NTR and EGR2 was assessed in denervated samples and compared to healthy nerve. Nonparametric smoothing linear regression was implemented to better visualise trends in the expression of these markers across denervated samples.It was found, first, that two major genes associated with repair Schwann cells in rodents, c-Jun and p75NTR, are also up-regulated in acutely injured human nerves, while the myelin associated transcription factor EGR2 is down-regulated, observations that encourage the view that rodent models are relevant for learning about human nerve injury. Second, as in rodents, the expression of c-Jun and p75NTR declines during long-term denervation. In rodents, diminishing c-Jun and p75NTR levels mark the general deterioration of repair cells during chronic denervation, a process thought to be a major obstacle to effective nerve repair. The down-regulation of c-Jun and p75NTR reported here provides the first molecular evidence that also in humans, repair cells deteriorate during chronic denervation.
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