Signals regulating myelination in peripheral nerves and the Schwann cell response to injury

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2013 Dec;23(6):1041-8. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2013.06.010. Epub 2013 Jul 26.


In peripheral nerves, Schwann cells form myelin, which facilitates the rapid conduction of action potentials along axons in the vertebrate nervous system. Myelinating Schwann cells are derived from neural crest progenitors in a step-wise process that is regulated by extracellular signals and transcription factors. In addition to forming the myelin sheath, Schwann cells orchestrate much of the regenerative response that occurs after injury to peripheral nerves. In response to injury, myelinating Schwann cells dedifferentiate into repair cells that are essential for axonal regeneration, and then redifferentiate into myelinating Schwann cells to restore nerve function. Although this remarkable plasticity has long been recognized, many questions remain unanswered regarding the signaling pathways regulating both myelination and the Schwann cell response to injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nerves / cytology
  • Peripheral Nerves / metabolism*
  • Schwann Cells / cytology
  • Schwann Cells / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*