Degeneration of myelinated efferent fibers prompts mitosis in Remak Schwann cells of uninjured C-fiber afferents

Beth B. Murinson, David R. Archer, Yongbo Li, John W. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The factors inducing normally innervated Schwann cells in peripheral nerve to divide are poorly understood. Transection of the fourth and fifth lumbar ventral roots (L4/5 ventral rhizotomy) of the rat is highly selective, sparing unmyelinated axons and myelinated sensory axons; Wallerian degeneration is restricted to myelinated efferent fibers. We found that L4/5 ventral rhizotomy prompted many normally innervated nonmyelinating (Remak) Schwann cells to enter cell cycle; myelinating Schwann cells of intact (sensory) axons did not. Three days after L4/5 ventral rhizotomy, [3H]thymidine incorporation into Remak Schwann cells increased 30-fold. Schwann cells of degenerating efferents and endoneurial cells also incorporated label. Increased [3H] thymidine incorporation persisted at least 10 d after ventral rhizotomy. Despite Remak Schwann cell proliferation, the morphology of unmyelinated nerve (Remak) bundles was static. Seven days after L5 ventral rhizotomy, Remak Schwann cells in the L5-predominant lateral plantar nerve increased slightly; endoneurial cells doubled. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated biotinylated UTP nick end labeling-positive nuclei increased dramatically in peripheral nerve after L5 ventral rhizotomy; many of these were macrophage nuclei. In summary, we find that the degeneration of myelinated motor axons produced signals that were mitogenic for nonmyelinating Schwann cells with intact axons but not for myelinating Schwann cells with intact axons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1187
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • C-fiber
  • Degeneration
  • Mitosis
  • Myelin
  • Nerve
  • Neuregulin
  • Schwann cell
  • Ventral rhizotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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