Role of glial cells in axonal regeneration

Exp Neurobiol. 2013 Jun;22(2):68-76. doi: 10.5607/en.2013.22.2.68. Epub 2013 Jun 27.


Axonal regeneration is critical for functional recovery following neural injury. In addition to intrinsic differences between regenerative responses of axons in peripheral versus central nervous systems, environmental factors such as glial cells and related molecules in the extracellular matrix (ECM) play an important role in axonal regeneration. Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are recognized as favorable factors that promote axonal regeneration, while astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system (CNS) are not. In this review, we evaluate the roles of Schwann cells and astrocytes in axonal regeneration and examine recent evidence that suggests a dual function of astrocytes in regenerative responses. We also discuss the role of Cdc2 pathways in axonal regeneration, which is commonly activated in Schwann cells and astrocytes. Greater insight on the roles of glial cells in axonal regeneration is key to establishing baseline interventions for improving functional recovery following neural injury.

Keywords: Cdc2; Schwann cell; astrocyte; axonal regeneration; glial cell.