The function of the p75(NTR) neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) in nervous system regeneration is still controversial. Part of that controversy may be due to the fact that p75(NTR) is expressed by both neuronal and glial cell types and may have very distinct and even contradictory roles in each population. In this study, to elucidate the in vivo function of p75(NTR) in Schwann cells during remyelination after peripheral nerve injury, we established a new animal model for p75(NTR)-deficient Schwann cell transplantation in nude mice. We performed quantitative assessments of the functional, histological, and electrophysiological recovery after sciatic nerve injury, and compared them with those of the p75(NTR)(+/+) Schwann cell transplanted animals. At 7-10 weeks after injury, the motor recovery in the p75(NTR)(-/-) Schwann cell transplanted animals was significantly impaired compared with that in the p75(NTR)(+/+) Schwann cell transplanted animals. The lower number of the retrogradely labeled motoneurons and the hypomyelination in the p75(NTR)(-/-) Schwann cell transplanted animals were evident at 6 and 10 weeks after injury. At 10 weeks after injury, the radial growth in the axon caliber was also impaired in the p75(NTR)(-/-) Schwann cell transplanted animals. Measurement of the amount of myelin proteins and the nerve conduction velocity at 10 weeks after injury reflected these results. In summary, the p75(NTR) expression in Schwann cells is important for remyelination process, and the motor recovery after injury is impaired due to impaired axonal growth, remyelination, and radial growth in the axon calibers.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.