, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 627-644
Date: 04 Jul 2014

Mechanisms of neuronal membrane sealing following mechanical trauma

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Abstract

Membrane integrity is crucial for maintaining the intricate signaling and chemically-isolated intracellular environment of neurons; disruption risks deleterious effects, such as unregulated ionic flux, neuronal apoptosis, and oxidative radical damage as observed in spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. This paper, in addition to a discussion of the current understanding of cellular tactics to seal membranes, describes two major factors involved in membrane repair. These are line tension, the hydrophobic attractive force between two lipid free-edges, and membrane tension, the rigidity of the lipid bilayer with respect to the tethered cortical cytoskeleton. Ca2+, a major mechanistic trigger for repair processes, increases following flux through a membrane injury site, and activates phospholipase enzymes, calpain-mediated cortical cytoskeletal proteolysis, protein kinase cascades, and lipid bilayer microdomain modification. The membrane tension appears to be largely modulated through vesicle dynamics, cytoskeletal organization, membrane curvature, and phospholipase manipulation. Dehydration of the phospholipid gap edge and modification of membrane packaging, as in temperature variation, experimentally impact line tension. Due to the time-sensitive nature of axonal sealing, increasing the efficacy of axolemmal sealing through therapeutic modification would be of great clinical value, to deter secondary neurodegenerative effects. Better therapeutic enhancement of membrane sealing requires a complete understanding of its intricate underlying neuronal mechanism.