The beneficial effect of genetically engineered Schwann cells with enhanced motility in peripheral nerve regeneration: review

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2007;100:51-6. doi: 10.1007/978-3-211-72958-8_11.


Background: The importance of Schwann cells in promoting nerve regeneration across a conduit has been extensively reported in the literature, and Schwann cell motility has been acknowledged as a prerequisite for myelination of the peripheral nervous system during regeneration after injury.

Methods: Review of recent literature and retrospective analysis of our studies with genetically modified Schwann Cells with increased motility in order to identify the underlying mechanism of action and outline the future trends in peripheral nerve repair.

Findings: Schwann cell transduction with the pREV-retrovirus, for expression of Sialyl-Transferase-X, resulting in conferring Polysialyl-residues (PSA) on NCAM, increases their motility in-vitro and ensures nerve regeneration through silicone tubes after end-to-side neurorraphy in the rat sciatic nerve model, thus significantly promoting fiber maturation and functional outcome. An artificial nerve graft consisting of a type I collagen tube lined with the genetically modified Schwann cells with increased motility, used to bridge a defect in end-to-end fashion in the rat sciatic nerve model, was shown to promote nerve regeneration to a level equal to that of a nerve autograft.

Conclusions: The use of genetically engineered Schwann cells with enhanced motility for grafting endoneural tubes promotes axonal regeneration, by virtue of the interaction of the transplanted cells with regenerating axonal growth cones as well as via the recruitment of endogenous Schwann cells. It is envisaged that mixed populations of Schwann cells, expressing PSA and one or more trophic factors, might further enhance the regenerating and remyelinating potential of the lesioned nerves.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / genetics*
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration / methods*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Schwann Cells / transplantation*
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiopathology
  • Sciatic Nerve / surgery*