The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Mar 2012

Myelin-derived ephrinB3 restricts axonal regeneration and recovery after adult CNS injury

Duffy P, Wang X, Siegel CS, Tu N, Henkemeyer M, Cafferty WB, Strittmatter SM

Recovery of neurological function after traumatic injury of the adult mammalian central nervous system is limited by lack of axonal growth. Myelin-derived inhibitors contribute to axonal growth restriction, with ephrinB3 being a developmentally important axonal guidance cue whose expression in mature oligodendrocytes suggests a role in regeneration. Here we explored the in vivo regeneration role of ephrinB3 using mice lacking a functional ephrinB3 gene. We confirm that ephrinB3 accounts for a substantial portion of detergent-resistant myelin-derived inhibition in vitro. To assess in vivo regeneration, we crushed the optic nerve and examined retinal ganglion fibers extending past the crush site. Significantly increased axonal regeneration is detected in ephrinB3(-/-) mice. Studies of spinal cord injury in ephrinB3(-/-) mice must take into account altered spinal cord development and an abnormal hopping gait before injury. In a near-total thoracic transection model, ephrinB3(-/-) mice show greater spasticity than wild-type mice for 2 mo, with slightly greater hindlimb function at later time points, but no evidence for axonal regeneration. After a dorsal hemisection injury, increased corticospinal and raphespinal growth in the caudal spinal cord are detected by 6 wk. This increased axonal growth is accompanied by improved locomotor performance measured in the open field and by kinematic analysis. Thus, ephrinB3 contributes to myelin-derived axonal growth inhibition and limits recovery from adult CNS trauma.

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