ATP Released by Injured Neurons Activates Schwann Cells

Front Cell Neurosci. 2016 May 23;10:134. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2016.00134. eCollection 2016.


Injured nerve terminals of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) can regenerate. This remarkable and complex response is governed by molecular signals that are exchanged among the cellular components of this synapse: motor axon nerve terminal (MAT), perisynaptic Schwann cells (PSCs), and muscle fiber. The nature of signals that govern MAT regeneration is ill-known. In the present study the spider toxin α-latrotoxin has been used as tool to investigate the mechanisms underlying peripheral neuroregeneration. Indeed this neurotoxin induces an acute, specific, localized and fully reversible damage of the presynaptic nerve terminal, and its action mimics the cascade of events that leads to nerve terminal degeneration in injured patients and in many neurodegenerative conditions. Here we provide evidence of an early release by degenerating neurons of adenosine triphosphate as alarm messenger, that contributes to the activation of a series of intracellular pathways within Schwann cells that are crucial for nerve regeneration: Ca(2+), cAMP, ERK1/2, and CREB. These results contribute to define the cross-talk taking place among degenerating nerve terminals and PSCs, involved in the functional recovery of the NMJ.

Keywords: ATP; CREB; ERK 1/2; Schwann cells; apyrase; cAMP; calcium; primary neurons.