Axonal Regeneration in the Peripheral Nervous System of Mammals

Olawale A.R. Sulaiman, J. Gordon Boyd and Tessa Gordon

in Neuroglia

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195152227
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199865024 | DOI:
                      Axonal Regeneration in the Peripheral Nervous System of Mammals

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The capacity for injured neurons to regenerate axons and remake functional connections with target organs distinguishes the peripheral from the central nervous system. This unique characteristic of the peripheral nervous system stems from the ability of the Schwann cells (SCs). In consequence, return of function after peripheral nerve injuries contrasts with permanent deficits associated with central nerve injuries. However, functional recovery after nerve injuries in humans is generally poor, despite the capacity of injured peripheral nerves to regenerate their axons. This chapter reviews the response of SCs to peripheral nerve injury in animal models. The contributions of injured neurons, SCs, and macrophages to the regenerative process in the peripheral nervous system appear to be interlinked such that there is a window of opportunity during which the growth potential of the neurons translates into outgrowth and extension of regenerating axons. This window of opportunity is closely linked to the period during which there is active Wallerian degeneration when macrophages interact with SCs to provide the permissive growth environment. The progressive but slow advancement of regenerating axons from the proximal nerve across the site of nerve transection and repair severely slows the progress of axonal growth into the distal nerve stumps. This delay further reduces the regenerative capacity of neurons as a result of prolonged axotomy and denervation.

Keywords: Schwann cells; peripheral nerve injury; cellular response; neurons; axonal regeneration

Chapter.  9968 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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