Enriched conditioning expands the regenerative ability of sensory neurons after spinal cord injury via neuronal intrinsic redox signaling
De Virgiliis Francesco, Thomas H Hutson, Ilaria Palmisano, Sarah Amachree, Jian Miao, Luming Zhou, Rositsa Todorova, Richard Thompson, Matt C Danzi, Vance P Lemmon, John L Bixby, Ilka Wittig, Ajay M Shah, Simone Di Giovanni
Overcoming the restricted axonal regenerative ability that limits functional repair following a central nervous system injury remains a challenge. Here we report a regenerative paradigm that we call enriched conditioning, which combines environmental enrichment (EE) followed by a conditioning sciatic nerve axotomy that precedes a spinal cord injury (SCI). Enriched conditioning significantly increases the regenerative ability of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) sensory neurons compared to EE or a conditioning injury alone, propelling axon growth well beyond the spinal injury site. Mechanistically, we established that enriched conditioning relies on the unique neuronal intrinsic signaling axis PKC-STAT3-NADPH oxidase 2 (NOX2), enhancing redox signaling as shown by redox proteomics in DRG. Finally, NOX2 conditional deletion or overexpression respectively blocked or phenocopied enriched conditioning-dependent axon regeneration after SCI leading to improved functional recovery. These studies provide a paradigm that drives the regenerative ability of sensory neurons offering a potential redox-dependent regenerative model for mechanistic and therapeutic discoveries.