Factors secreted by Schwann cells stimulate the regeneration of neonatal retinal ganglion cells.
Taylor JSH., Bampton ETW.
The adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) does not repair after injury. However, we and others have shown in earlier work that the neonatal CNS is capable of repair and importantly of allowing regenerating axons to re-navigate through the same pathways as they did during development. This phase of neonatal repair is restricted by the fragility of neurons after injury and a lack of trophic factors that enable their survival. Our aim is to define better the factors that sustain neurons after injury and allow regeneration to occur. We describe some of our work using Schwann cells to promote the regeneration of neurons from young postnatal rodents. We have established rapid methods for purifying Schwann cells without the use of either anti-mitotic agents to suppress contaminating fibroblasts or mitotic stimulation to generate large numbers of Schwann cells. The rapidly purified Schwann cells have been used to generate conditioned medium that we have shown stimulates axon regeneration in cultured retinal ganglion cell neurons. We also show that the positive effects of Schwann cells are still present after pharmacological blockade of the neurotrophin receptors, suggesting that novel factors mediate these effects.