Terminal complement complexes concomitantly stimulate proliferation and rescue of Schwann cells from apoptosis

Glia. 2000 Apr;30(2):187-98. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-1136(200004)30:2<187::aid-glia8>3.0.co;2-7.


The consequences of sublytic terminal complement complex (TCC) assembly on Schwann cell proliferation and apoptosis were examined by using purified complement proteins (C5*-9) or antibody-sensitized Schwann cells in the presence of a serum that was depleted of the seventh component of complement (C7dHS) and reconstituted with purified C7. Stimulation of cultured Schwann cells with antibody plus 10% C7dHS and C7 or C5*-9 induced DNA synthesis over antibody plus 10% C7dHS alone or in Schwann cells in which C5*-9 insertion was inhibited by heat inactivation, respectively. Cell cycle analysis with propidium iodide showed that, at 24 h, viable Schwann cells in defined medium were synchronized in G1/G0 phase. C5*-9 shifted 64% of these cells into S or G2/M phases in a manner similar to beta-neuregulin (beta-NRG), a known Schwann cell mitogen. Furthermore, antibody with 10% C7dHS and C7 or purified C5*-9 induced proliferation of viable Schwann cells. These effects were mediated by signal-transduction pathways involving p44 ERK1 (extracellular-regulated kinase 1), Gi proteins, and protein kinase C. Culturing in defined medium for 24 h resulted in apoptosis of up to 50% of Schwann cells that was prevented by treatment with beta-NRG or TCC. Sublytic C5*-9 significantly inhibited apoptosis 41% by 24 h, as determined by a terminal deoxyuridine triphosphate-biotin nick end labeling assay, and also decreased annexin-V binding at 4 h. Collectively, these data suggest that sublytic TCC, like beta-NRG, is a potent Schwann cell trophic factor that is capable of stimulating mitogenesis and apoptotic rescue. TCC assembly on Schwann cells during inflammatory demyelination of peripheral nerves may promote survival of mature cells to enhance repair and remyelination processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / isolation & purification
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / pharmacology*
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Schwann Cells / cytology*
  • Schwann Cells / enzymology
  • Sciatic Nerve / cytology


  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • DNA
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases