Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Glial cells assist in the repair of injured nerves

29.01.2013
When a nerve is damaged, glial cells produce the protein neuregulin1 and thereby promote the regeneration of nerve tissue

Unlike the brain and spinal cord, the peripheral nervous system has an astonishing capacity for regeneration following injury. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine in Göttingen have discovered that, following nerve damage, peripheral glial cells produce the growth factor neuregulin1, which makes an important contribution to the regeneration of damaged nerves.


Electron microscope image of a cross-section through a mouse nerve: following injury, the myelin sheath of numerous regenerated nerve fibres is too thin. © MPI of Experimental Medicine

From their cell bodies to their terminals in muscle or skin, neuronal extensions or axons in the peripheral nervous system are surrounded along their entire length by glial cells. These cells, which are known as Schwann cells, envelop the axons with an insulating sheath called myelin, which enables the rapid transmission of electrical impulses. Following injury to a peripheral nerve, the damaged axons degenerate. After a few weeks, however, they regenerate and are then recovered with myelin by the Schwann cells. For thus far unexplained reasons, however, the Schwann cells do not manage to regenerate the myelin sheaths completely. Thus the function of damaged nerves often remains permanently impaired and certain muscles remain paralysed in affected patients.

In a current research study, the scientists have succeeded in showing that the growth factor neuregulin1 supports nerve repair and the redevelopment of the myelin layer. This protein is usually produced by neurons and is localised on axons where it acts as an important signal for the maturation of Schwann cells and myelin formation. Because the axons rapidly degenerate after injury, the remaining Schwann cells lose their contact with the axons. They thus lack the neuregulin1 signal of the nervous fibres. “In the phase following nerve damage, in which the axons are missing, the Schwann cells must carry out many tasks without the help of axonal signals. If the Schwann cells cannot overcome this first major obstacle in the aftermath of nerve injury, the nerve cannot be adequately repaired,” explains Ruth Stassart, one of the study authors.

To prevent this, the Schwann cells themselves take over the production of the actual neuronal signal molecule. After nerve damage, they synthesise the neuregulin1 protein until the axons have grown again. With the help of genetically modified mice, the researchers working on this study were able to show that the neuregulin1 produced in Schwann cells is necessary for the new maturation of the Schwann cells and the regeneration of the myelin sheath after injury. “In mice that lack the neuregulin1 gene in their Schwann cells, the already incomplete nerve regeneration process is extensively impaired,” explains co-author Robert Fledrich.

The researchers would now like to examine in greater detail how the Schwann cells contribute to the complete repair of myelinated axons after nerve damage, so that this information can also be used for therapeutic purposes.

Contact

Prof. Klaus-Armin Nave Ph.D.,
Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine, Göttingen
Phone: +49 551 3899-757
Fax: +49 551 3899-758
Email: nave@­em.mpg.de
Original publication
Ruth M Stassart, Robert Fledrich, Viktorija Velanac, Bastian G Brinkmann, Markus H Schwab, Dies Meijer, Michael W Sereda & Klaus-Armin Nave
A role for Schwann cell–derived neuregulin-1 in remyelination
Nature Neuroscience, 2013 Jan; 16(1):48-54. doi: 10.1038/nn.3281

Prof. Klaus-Armin Nave | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/6880054/glial-cells_nerves

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History

nachricht New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>