Peripheral nerve grafts promote vigorous regeneration of adult mammalian CNS axons. Elimination of nerve-associated cells by freeze-thawing abolishes this promoting quality, possibly by creating inhibitory cellular debris and/or destroying the production of stimulatory factors by living Schwann or other cells. Here, debris-free acellular peripheral nerve segments placed between the disconnected septum and the hippocampal formation acquired almost no cholinergic axons after 1 month. However, such acellular nerve grafts treated before implantation with purified β-nerve growth factor (NGF) contained nearly as many longitudinally oriented cholinergic axons as did fresh cellular nerve grafts. These results suggest that (i) NGF is required for the regeneration of adult CNS cholinergic axons into nerve grafts and (ii) an important function of living cells within peripheral nerve may be the production of neuronotrophic factors such as NGF.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience