Hydrogen peroxide induced by nerve injury promotes axon regeneration via connective tissue growth factor

Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2022 Dec 25;10(1):189. doi: 10.1186/s40478-022-01495-5.


Regeneration of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) leverages on extensive exchange of factors released from motor axon terminals (MATs), muscle fibers and perisynaptic Schwann cells (PSCs), among which hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a major pro-regenerative signal. To identify critical determinants of NMJ remodeling in response to injury, we performed temporal transcriptional profiling of NMJs from 2 month-old mice during MAT degeneration/regeneration, and cross-referenced the differentially expressed genes with those elicited by H2O2 in SCs. We identified an enrichment in extracellular matrix (ECM) transcripts, including Connective Tissue Growth Factor (Ctgf), which is usually expressed during development. We discovered that Ctgf levels are increased in a Yes-associated protein (YAP)-dependent fashion in response to rapid, local H2O2 signaling generated by stressed mitochondria in the injured sciatic nerve, a finding highlighting the importance of signals triggered by mechanical force to motor nerve repair. Through sequestration of Ctgf or inactivation of H2O2, we delayed the recovery of neuromuscular function by impairing SC migration and, in turn, axon-oriented re-growth. These data indicate that H2O2 and its downstream effector Ctgf are pro-regenerative factors that enable axonal growth, and reveal a striking ECM remodeling process during nerve regeneration upon local H2O2 signaling. Our study identifies key transcriptomic changes at the regenerating NMJ, providing a rich source of pro-regenerative factors with potential for alleviating the consequences of peripheral nerve injuries.

Keywords: Connective tissue growth factor; Hydrogen peroxide; Nerve regeneration; Neuromuscular junction; Schwann cells; Yes-associated protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons* / physiology
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor* / genetics
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor* / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Regeneration* / physiology
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries* / physiopathology
  • Schwann Cells / metabolism


  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor
  • Hydrogen Peroxide