BioScience Trends. 2009;3(5):179-183.

Intrinsic regenerative mechanisms of central nervous system neurons.

Muramatsu R, Ueno M, Yamashita T


Injuries to the adult central nervous system (CNS), such as spinal cord injury and brain contusion, can cause permanent functional deficits if axonal connections are broken. Spontaneous functional recovery rarely occurs. It has been widely accepted that the extracellular environment of the CNS inhibits neuronal regeneration. However, it should be noted that another reason for injured neurons failing to regenerate is their weak intrinsic ability to do so. The regeneration of injured neurons is a process involving many intracellular phenomena, including cytoskeletal changes, gene and protein expression, and changes in the responsiveness to extracellular cues. The capacity of injured neurons to regenerate is modulated to some extent by changes in the expression of intracellular signaling molecules such as glycogen synthase kinase-3β and cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate. Knowledge of these effects has guided the development of animal models for regenerative therapies of CNS injury. Enhancing the intrinsic regenerative machinery of injured axons in the adult CNS is a potentially powerful strategy for treating patients with a CNS injury.

KEYWORDS: Axon, CNS, spinal cord injury, GSK-3β, cAMP

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