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Schwann cells are removed from the rat spinal cord after effecting recovery from paraplegia.

Janni G, Moallem T, Lappi DA, Ohara PT, Jasmin L (2000) Schwann cells are removed from the rat spinal cord after effecting recovery from paraplegia. Neuroscience 2000 Abstracts 516.8. Society for Neuroscience, New Orleans, LA.

Summary: Remyelination of the CNS is necessary to restore neural function in a number of demyelinating conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Schwann cells, the myelinating cells of the periphery, are good candidates for this purpose, having more robust regenerative properties than their central homologues, the oligodendrocytes. While the ability of Schwann cells to remyelinate the CNS and effect functional recovery has been demonstrated, their long term survival in the CNS after myelinating central axons is largely unknown. We use saporin conjugated to the cholera toxin B-subunit to demyelinate the rat lumbar spinal cord, remove macroglia, and produce paraplegia. This treatment is followed by a spontaneous proliferation of large numbers of endogenous Schwann cells which remyelinate spinal cord axons with concomitant functional recovery from paraplegia within 75 days. During the following weeks, however, quantification on thin sections shows that Schwann cells are progressively replaced by oligodendrocytes, without any lapse in behavioral recovery. This removal of Schwann cells is confirmed by ultrastructural examination and by immunocytochemistry for Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes. Our results indicate that Schwann cell remyelination of the spinal cord might not be permanent. They can be induced to demyelinate and desheath through endogenous mechanisms that remain to be characterized.

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