Laminin in traumatized peripheral nerve: Basement membrane changes during degeneration and regeneration
The changes in Schwann cell basement membrane associated with degeneration and regeneration during 50 weeks after transection of rat sciatic nerve were studied immunohistochemically with antibodies to laminin. In half of the animals, regeneration was prevented by suturing the nerve stumps aside, whereas in the rest spontaneous regeneration was allowed. Axonal regeneration was monitored with anti-neurofilament protein antibodies.
In control nerves, basement membranes surrounding Schwann cells were visualized as circular, laminin-positive structures within the endoneurium. By 8 weeks after transection, Schwann cells had formed columns which were laminin-positive throughout their cross-sectional area and indistinguishable from basement membrane zones in both non-regenerating and regenerating nerves. As axons repopulated the distal stump, the normal shape of Schwann cell basement membrane tubes was slowly restored in freely regenerating nerves. In non-regenerating nerves, however, a striking atrophy of Schwann cell columns was observed. Regenerating axons were only seen inside laminin-positive tubular structures in all phases after 8 weeks in regenerating nerves. On the other hand, restoration of normal shape in laminin-positive basement membrane zones was coincident with appearance of axons in the distal stump, but it did not take place in chronically degenerating nerves.
The results show that chronic degeneration leads to an atrophy of Schwann cell columns and results in a decrease in laminin immunoreactivity associated with them.
KeywordsBasement Membrane Laminin Sciatic Nerve Schwann Cell Axonal Regeneration
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